Handout issued by U.S. Department of Defense says both officials also discussed the ongoing situation in Afghanistan and regional stability
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called Pakistan Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa on Tuesday night to discuss their two nations’ mutual goals of “security and stability” in the South Asian region.
“Secretary Austin expressed his interest in continuing to improve the U.S.-Pakistan relationship and build upon our multiple shared interests in the region,” read a statement on the call issued by the U.S. Department of Defense.
The call comes at a particularly sensitive time, as the Taliban continue to make territorial advances in Afghanistan, capturing more than six provincial capitals in the last week alone. Both the U.S. and Pakistan have repeatedly stressed that the “use of force” to secure control over Afghanistan was unacceptable to them, with Islamabad stressing that it has lost much of the leverage it had over the Taliban following the U.S. announcement of withdrawing all troops from the country by Sept. 11.
“Secretary Austin and General Bajwa discussed the ongoing situation in Afghanistan, regional security and stability, and the bilateral defense relationship more broadly,” the brief statement added.
A day earlier, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby had told a media briefing that talks were ongoing between Washington and Islamabad on alleged safe havens for terrorists along the Pak-Afghan border. He emphasized that these were sources of instability and insecurity in the region and urged all neighboring nations of Afghanistan to refrain from actions that jeopardize regional security.
In the same briefing, Kirby had said that the Afghanistan government need to exert its leadership to stem the rise of the Taliban, adding that they had resources and capabilities that the Taliban lacked, including a modern Air Force and around 300,000 trained police and soldiers.