Adm. Mike Mullen Meets General Kayani over Indian Ocean: NYT
U.S.-Pakistani Brainstorming on Border Violence
By ERIC SCHMITT, New York Times, August 28, 2008
WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff secretly convened a highly unusual meeting of senior American and Pakistani commanders on an aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean on Tuesday to discuss how to combat the escalating violence along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
While officials from the two allies offered few details on Wednesday about what was decided or even discussed at the meeting — including any new strategies, tactics, weapons or troop deployments — the star-studded list of participants and the extreme secrecy surrounding the talks underscored how gravely both nations regard the growing militant threat.
The leading actors in the daylong conference were Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, chief of staff of the Pakistani Army.
Joining them aboard the carrier Abraham Lincoln were Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, who will soon become the senior officer in the Middle East; Gen. David D. McKiernan, NATO’s top officer in Afghanistan; Adm. Eric T. Olson, head of the Special Operations Command; Lt. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, acting commander of American forces in the Middle East; and Rear Adm. Michael A. LeFever, the senior American military liaison to Pakistan. General Kayani was accompanied by ranking officers from Pakistan.
The meeting was prompted by a series of ominous developments: continuing political turmoil in Pakistan, increasingly deadly attacks against Afghan and Western targets in Afghanistan and American complaints that the Pakistani military has been ineffective in stemming the flow of militants who launch attacks in Afghanistan from Pakistani havens.
American officials pointed to two major Taliban attacks in Afghanistan last week — a coordinated assault by at least 10 suicide bombers against one of the largest American military bases and another by about 100 insurgents who ambushed and killed 10 elite French paratroopers.
“The meeting was mainly to continue to discuss ongoing operations against extremists in the border region and to work together to find better ways to solve those problems,” said one American military official who was briefed on the talks.
Admiral Mullen met with General Kayani just a month ago in Islamabad, Pakistan. It was then that this week’s meeting was scheduled, the military official said. In Islamabad, he said, Admiral Mullen had bluntly warned General Kayani that Pakistan had to do more to combat militants in the restive tribal areas.
The gathering aboard the Abraham Lincoln was less confrontational in tone, aides said. “It was one of those meetings to help clear up the situation, get an understanding of the issues, and look for a way forward,” said a senior Pakistani officer briefed on the discussions.
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Pakistan terror war focus finally on target, says US: Kayani attends secret talks with American military chief on aircraft carrier - Anwar Iqbal, Dawn, August 29, 2008