WASHINGTON - The White House has said Secretary of State John Kerry discussed regional security issues and Afghan reconciliation process with Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani during their weekend meeting before the American diplomat's visit to Kabul.
"On Sunday, Secretary Kerry and Pakistani Chief of Army Staff General Kayani had dinner and they discussed a range of bilateral security issues, including combating terrorism, reconciliation process in Afghanistan and regional security," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said of the meeting that took place in Jordan. The spokesman was responding to a question in the context of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's explanation to Secretary Kerry about his statement last week in which he alleged that the US was conspiring with the Taliban.
In Kabul, Kerry smoothed over US-Afghanistan tensions as the Obama Administration looks to withdraw military forces from landlocked country by end of 2014, a goal for which Washington hugely depends on Pakistan's anti-terror cooperation as well as availability of its transportation routes. In his remarks at the daily briefing, Carney stressed the importance of US relationship with Afghanistan.
"We have a very important relationship with President Karzai. Most importantly, we have a very important relationship with the Afghan people, the Afghanistan government."
"And of course, as you know, Secretary Kerry was in Kabul the other day to reaffirm the US commitment to our strategic partnership with Afghanistan, and he met with President Karzai and other Afghan officials as well as the civil society groups to discuss how we can continue to work together to sustain the progress we've made and to advance our shared goal of a stable, sovereign Afghanistan that is no longer a launching pad for Al-Qaeda and other transnational terrorists." President Obama's spokesman noted that transfer of responsibility for the prison at Bagram has taken place and they are continuing to work with their Afghan counterparts as they move forward with the President's policies on these issues."