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Pak ISI chief visits US; to discuss security, intelligence

Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar

Islamabad: Pakistan’s powerful ISI chief Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar has left for the US on his maiden visit to hold talks with top American officials on regional security, counter terrorism and intelligence issues.

The spy chief’s official visit to the US is taking place in the backdrop of reports that Afghan Taliban may hold peace talks with the US and Afghanistan, creating hopes that a solution to the 13-year long insurgency could be found.

Pakistan’s support is seen as crucial to persuade the Taliban to hold talks with the Afghan government.

“The DG ISI [has] proceeded to USA for an official visit. During the visit, he will meet his counterparts and discuss issues related to intelligence,” army spokesman said today.

Akhtar, who took over as the head of Inter-Services Intelligence in November last year, is expected to discuss issues related to intelligence sharing and improving border security during the visit besides regional security and mutual affairs.

It is also expected that the ISI chief will meet seniorĀ  officials at the National Security Council and the Central Intelligence Agency Chief John O Brennan and the US military leadership.

Pakistan will also raise the issue of Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah allegedly hiding in Afghanistan.

In January, he had visited Afghanistan along with Army Chief General Raheel Sharif and discussed ways to increase anti-terror cooperation.

A 10,000-strong US-led NATO force ended its combat mission in Afghanistan in December last year. However, a residual force has stayed to provide training and anti-terror operations to Afghan forces.

By the end of this year, the US force will drop to roughly 5,000. The remainder was planned to pull out in two years.

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