ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif will visit the United States from November 15-20 to hold talks with military and political leadership on wide-ranging security issues,” tweeted DG ISPR Lieutenant General Asim Saleem Bajwa yesterday. "COAS (Chief of Army Staff) will visit USA from 15-20 November. Will hold meetings with military and political leadership on wide-ranging security issues," the military spokesman announced on Twitter.

During the visit, the stalled Afghan peace process will also come under discussion, the military said. The visit comes weeks after the trip by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and is viewed by analysts as a US attempt to deal directly with the country's powerful military. A senior security official said the two sides would discuss reconciliation in Afghanistan and Pakistan's ongoing military operations against Taliban militants in its tribal areas.

The US sees Pakistan as one of the few states with influence over the extremists. Some in Washington believe Pakistan has not done enough to bring its influence to bear and to persuade the group to renounce violence. Islamabad organised the first set of direct peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government in July. But another round scheduled for later that month stalled following the announcement of the death of Taliban founder Mullah Omar.

At home, General Raheel Sharif is gaining a cult following because of his willingness to carry out military operations to clear militants from the tribal areas, and he is also credited with bringing down levels of violence in Karachi. General Sharif visited the US last year, where he met with Secretary of State John Kerry and was awarded the US Legion of Merit. The present government is widely seen as having ceded more power to the military since Sharif was re-elected in 2013.

America's relationship with Islamabad is a prickly one, born of an inter-dependency peppered with mutual mistrust. Ties were plunged into crisis when 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden was discovered to be living in garrison city. But since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returned to the premier's office for his third term two years ago, both sides have made an effort to find areas of cooperation.