Clinton described the meetings as â€œvery extensive, open, frank and constructive discussions.â€ The relationship has been strained by the U.S. operation in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden on May 1.
Mullen stressed â€œthe criticalityâ€ of the relationship between Pakistan and the United States, of the shared sense of urgency that leaders in both nations feel and of moving the relationship forward.
â€œI think we all realize the challenges under which this relationship now labors, but now is not the time for retreat or for recrimination,â€ the chairman said during a news conference at the U.S. embassy. â€œNow is the time for action and closer coordination -- for more cooperation, not less [and] for the friendship to get stronger, not weaker.â€
Clinton said the visit comes at an important time because bin Ladenâ€™s death marks a turning point in the struggle against extremists.
â€œOsama bin Laden is dead, but al-Qaida and its syndicate of terror remain a serious threat to us both,â€ she said. â€œThere is momentum toward political reconciliation in Afghanistan, but the insurgency continues to operate from safe havens here in Pakistan.â€
The United States has been clear and consistent about its expectations in the relationship with Pakistan, the secretary said. She said both countries want to defeat violent extremism, end the conflict in Afghanistan and ensure a secure, stable, democratic, prosperous future for Pakistan. â€œWe expect to work closely with the government and the people of Pakistan to achieve those ends,â€ she said.
Many terrorists have sought refuge in Pakistan and have used the country as a planning center, the secretary noted. â€œFrom here, they have targeted innocent people all over the world -- in Pakistan, Afghanistan and far beyond,â€ Clinton said. â€œBut no nation has sacrificed more lives in this struggle against violent extremism than Pakistan has. Extremists have killed women and children, blown up mosques and markets, and shown no regard for human life or dignity.â€
The United States and Pakistan have worked together to take on these terrorists, Clinton said, and the governments and militaries have cooperated and shared intelligence often.
â€œToday, we discussed in even greater detail cooperation to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida, and to drive them from Pakistan and the region,â€ the secretary said. â€œWe will do our part and we look to the government of Pakistan to take decisive steps in the days ahead. Joint action against al-Qaida and its affiliates will make Pakistan, America and the world safer and more secure.â€
Clinton stressed there is absolutely no evidence that anyone at the highest levels of the Pakistani government knew Osama bin Laden was living in Abbottabad.
Pakistan has an interest in a safe, stable Afghanistan, and the United States and Pakistan must work together to achieve that goal, Clinton said, adding that the United States is working with Afghanistan to split the Taliban from al-Qaida and reconcile insurgents who meet certain criteria.
â€œToday, we discussed Pakistanâ€™s perspective on Afghanistan and how it can support the international communityâ€™s efforts there,â€ Clinton said. â€œWe look forward to putting those words into action and seeing momentum toward a political resolution.â€
Bin Ladenâ€™s death has caused terrorists to lash out in Pakistan, and the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban continue to collude with al-Qaida, the chairman said.
â€œTo be sure, these groups are weaker -- much weaker -- and not just as a result of this raid, but as a result of the extraordinary efforts expended by both coalition forces and the Pakistani military over the last several years,â€ Mullen said. â€œThere is a much larger struggle afoot, and I would be remiss if I did not applaud the bravery and the skill with which Pakistani troops have engaged the enemy in that struggle, losing thousands of their number in the process.â€
The fight must continue, and Pakistani and American service members must continue to cooperate, Mullen said.
â€œFor our part, my military took many risks going after bin Laden, risks to the lives of our men and women in uniform, risks to civilian causalities and to collateral damage,â€ Mullen said. â€œWe took the risk of being wrong about what we thought we knew of the killerâ€™s whereabouts. And yes, in our desire to preserve secrecy, we incurred a certain risk in our relationships with other nations in the region.
â€œBut this particular relationship with Pakistan is too critical,â€ he added, â€œand now is too critical a time to allow whatever differences we may still have with one another impede the progress we must still make together.â€
The chairman acknowledged that he realizes U.S. and Pakistani service members must continue to build trust -- trust that has been tested by the bin Laden raid.
â€œBut I do leave here with a sense that General Kayani and other Pakistani military leaders share my commitment to that task and share my desire to look for ways to advance the relationship,â€ he said. â€œThereâ€™s no better time for that sort of partnership than right now.â€
May 27, 2011: By Jim Garamone- American Forces Press Service
Redistributed by www.SupportOurTroops.org\