WASHINGTON: Pakistan Army Chief General Raheel Sharif on Wednesday underscored the need for resolution of the decades-old Kashmir dispute during a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department on Thursday that focused on regional stability, according to the Pakistani military spokesman.

In a series of tweets, the director general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Lt Gen Asim Bajwa, said General Raheel discussed with the top US diplomat regional security with respect to India and Afghanistan, and the need for regional stability. “COAS Highlighted the need for resolution of Kashmir,” he added. Pakistan army chief, , who is on a five-day official visit to the United States, underlined his country’s perspective on regional security, and reiterated Pakistan’s desire to strengthen and solidify Pak-US relations on the basis of mutual interest and respect, the military spokesman said.

Secretary Kerry acknowledged Pakistan’s contributions and sacrifices in the fight against terror, General Bajwa said. The army chief also discussed with the secretary of state the stalled Afghan reconciliation process, its challenges, and the way forward. Gen Raheel Sharif has already met with CIA Director John Brennan and US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter as well as Deputy Secretary of Defence Robert Work, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) Gen Joseph Dunford, Army Chief of Staff Gen Mark Milley and Centcom (Central Command) chief Gen Lloyd Austin. During the meetings, Gen Raheel and American officials discussed defence cooperation between US and Pakistan and the need for enhanced defence coordination.

After spending five days in Washington, the army chief will go to Brazil on a three-day visit for talks on cooperation between the two militaries. From Brazil, he will go to Ivory Coast to spend a day with Pakistani troops who were serving there as part of the UN peace keeping force.

Briefing media about Gen Raheel Sharif’s meeting with the American defence chiefs, Pentagon Spokesman Peter Cook said Pakistan’s army chief also met Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford and Commander of US Central Command General Lloyd Austin, and discussed mutual security interests, including security cooperation between Pakistan and the United States. The ongoing military operation in the federally administered tribal areas of Pakistan and regional security dynamic also came under discussion.

Responding to a question, spokesman Cook said during the meetings the Pakistani and US military leaders talked about US-Pakistan relationship and the military relationship going forward. The two sides also discussed the relationship our two countries have and our shared interest in seeing regional security, and obviously dealing with the terrorism threat not only in Pakistan, but also in neighbouring Afghanistan, and why continued cooperation is so vital in that, he added.

He said, “The United States would continue to have defense dialogue with Pakistan and welcomes their efforts to trying to foster that stability to the extent possible, again, not only in Pakistan itself, but also in - in Afghanistan where they play such a critical role.”

Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif yesterday said the chief of army staff does not need to seek any permission for his foreign visits while his current visit to the US was mainly focused on defence ties between the two states. Talking to media persons after holding a press conference in his capacity as a federal minister for water and power on Nandipur Power Project, Khawaja Asif said the army chief’s visit was scheduled a couple of weeks in advance, making it clear that he did not need to get permission for his foreign visits.

To another question, he said the prime minister’s visit to the United States a couple of weeks back was mainly focused on Pak-US bilateral ties and the overall situation of the region while the army chief’s visit was purely professional in nature in order to mainly focus on defence relations, the ongoing military operation against militants in progress in Pakistan and security matters in the region. About his role as the defence minister, he said he approves the measures relevant to the country’s needs and requirements and also grants approval to the matters referred to him from General Headquarters from time to time. Meanwhile, Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz asked media not to exaggerate things about Army Chief General Raheel Sharif’s visit to the United States. Addressing an international conference in Islamabad, he said Pakistan-US relations are expanding. He pointed out that different working groups are functioning which will help further strengthen bilateral relations.