ISLAMABAD -  The United States on Friday recognised the important role played by the Frontier Corps in safeguarding Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.

A meeting was held between Brigadier Muhammad Yousaf Majoka, deputy inspector-general FC Khyber Pakhtukhwa and Katie Stana, Director Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) to mark the inauguration of Border Outpost Construction Project at the General Headquarters, Rawalpindi, said a US embassy statement issue here.

Brigadier Majoka expressed his gratitude for the INL’s assistance, mentioning that: “The US Embassy’s INL has stood with [the] FC for more than a decade, helping to reduce civilian and law enforcement casualties, cross-border infiltrations, smuggling of narcotics, kidnapping for ransom and other crimes on the western border of Pakistan.”

Inauguration celebrated the completion of three-year $10 million project that began in 2014, which included the construction of five company headquarters, 33 border outposts and renovation of 54 security posts.

During previous phases, 54 border outposts were constructed and 30 facilities renovated at a cost of $5.5 million.

During the inauguration ceremony, Stana recognised the important role that the FC plays in safeguarding Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, noting that “the Frontier Corps is Pakistan’s first line of defense in border security, and we are proud to support its mission.”

In particular, she highlighted the INL-funded border outposts in the Chitral area of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Mohmand and Bajaur agencies of the Federally-Administrated Tribal Areas, which provided critical protection during several attacks from 2014-2016 from across the border, helping to protect the lives of the FC personnel engaged in countering narcotics and preventing cross-border infiltration.

In addition to this infrastructure support, this year the INL will provide more that $5 million in equipment, including bulletproof vests, helmets and bomb protection suits to the FC to help improve personnel safety to the troops and extend the reach of the FC in the Fata and along the Pak-Afghan border, said the US embassy statement.

Meanwhile, on Friday, the third round of Pakistan-Belarus Bilateral Political Consultations was held in Minsk on May 11-12, the foreign ministry said.

The Pakistan side was led by Ambassador Zaheer Janjua, Additional Secretary (Europe), while Deputy Foreign Minister Valentin Rybakov headed the Belarus delegation, a statement issued by the ministry said.

 The two sides undertook a comprehensive review of bilateral ties and agreed to enhance cooperation in diverse spheres, especially in the fields of economy, trade, commerce, energy, industry, investment, agriculture, IT, science and technology, education, culture, tourism, defence and parliamentary exchanges, it said.

The two sides also had a detailed exchange of views on regional and international issues of importance and agreed to continue collaborating at the United Nations and other multilateral fora, the statement said.

The additional secretary briefed on Pakistan’s efforts to reach out to Afghanistan and India.

He reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to constructively contribute towards the promotion of peace and stability in Afghanistan as well as dialogue with India to resolve all outstanding issues, including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

He also highlighted the atrocities being perpetrated by the Indian security forces against unarmed innocent Kashmiri civilians.

The additional secretary briefed the Belarus side on Pakistan’s credentials for the membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, and emphasised the need for a criteria-based, non-discriminatory approach for new non-member states of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Pakistan and Belarus closely cooperate on bilateral and multilateral issues.

The Annual Bilateral Political Consultations (BPC) provides a useful platform to review progress in various fields and identify opportunities for future cooperation.

The second session of the BPC was held in October 2015 and the fourth session will be held in Islamabad at mutually-convenient dates.