ISLAMABAD  - US Central Command Chief General Lloyd Austin on Monday held separate meetings with Army Chief General Raheel Sharif and Secretary of Defence Lt. Gen (r) Alam Khattak and discussed bilateral defence cooperation and regional security situation.

Matters of mutual interest including bilateral defence cooperation and regional security situation with special emphasis on Afghanistan were discussed, said an ISPR press release.

The Commander CENTCOM lauded the sacrifices rendered by the Pakistan Army in the war against terrorism and the ongoing military operations in Pak-Afghan border destroying terrorist networks.

Earlier, on arrival at GHQ, the commander laid a floral wreath at Yadgare-e-Shuhada to pay tribute to the martyrs. In a related development, the US CENTCOM Commander also called on Secretary Defence Lt, General (Retd) Muhammad Alam Khattak here in his office at Rawalpindi.

The visiting delegation comprised ODRP Chief, Political Advisor and Communications Director from the American side while senior officials attended from the Pakistan side.

According to Ministry of Defence spokesperson, the Secretary Defence told the visiting commander that Pakistan plays a stabilizing role in the Draw Down of forces from Afghanistan.

He said, "we are the fulcrum of security for South Asia. Our importance in this regard needs to be understood stability and security of the region is linked to the stability of Pakistan.

He further said that Pakistan has made sincere efforts for helping Afghan Government to stabilize and has facilitated peace process in Afghanistan.

Gen Austin said that he is fully cognizant of the sacrifices rendered by Pakistan Army and its people in the continuing war on terror. He expressed condolences on the sad incident of Peshawar school attack and acknowledged the continued commitment of Pakistan towards peace.

Pakistan wants peace in the region and is making an effort to make its borders peaceful. Our desire for peace should be facilitated by our friends so that our efforts reap fruits added Secretary Defence.