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Top Afghan, Pak and NATO commanders hold high-level meet

May 13, 2012 16:30 IST

Top military commanders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation on Sunday discussed border control measures and mechanisms to avert "untoward incidents" along the Afghan frontier, as the three sides resumed high-level military contact after a break of several months.

A Pakistan Army contingent led by General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and delegations headed by International Security Assistance Force commander United States General John Allen and Afghan National Army chief General Sher Muhammad Karimi participated in the meeting of the Tripartite Commission in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

The Tripartite Commission provides a "forum to raise and process contentious issues and facilitate settlement", the Pakistan Army said in a statement.

The talks "focussed on border control measures and mechanisms put in place to avoid untoward incidents on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border", it said.

The talks assume significance as they were held two days before a scheduled meeting of the Pakistan's Defence Committee of the Cabinet, which is expected to discuss the reopening of supply routes for foreign troops in Afghanistan and the country's participation in the NATO Summit beginning in Chicago on May 20.

On Saturday, General John Allen, the American commander of foreign forces in Afghanistan, held bilateral talks with General Kayani on operations in areas along the Afghan border and mechanisms to avoid "untoward incidents".

Relations between the Pakistani military and ISAF have been strained since 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed in a cross-border NATO air strike in November.

Pakistan responded to the attack by shutting all NATO supply routes and forcing US troops to vacate Shamsi airbase, considered a hub for Central Intelligence Agency-operated drones.

Besides the Defence Committee of the Cabinet, the federal cabinet too will meet on May 16 to discuss reopening of the supply routes and President Asif Ali Zardari's participation in the NATO Summit.

The US and Pakistan have struggled to put their ties on an even keel in the wake of a string of crises last year, including the killing of two men by a CIA contractor in
Lahore, the unilateral American raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad and the NATO air strike.

A breakthrough in recent talks between the two sides has been held up by Pakistan's insistence on an unconditional apology for the NATO attack.

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