Islamabad (AFP) – Pakistan’s powerful spy chief has left on an official trip to the United States, the military said Wednesday, with possible peace talks between Afghanistan and the Afghan Taleban likely to be on the agenda.
It is Lieutenant General Rizwan Akhtar’s first official visit to the US since taking charge of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency last year.
Pakistan has a civilian government but the military and ISI still wield great influence, particularly over policy towards neighbouring Afghanistan.
The trip comes days after President Barack Obama’s new Pentagon chief said the US was seriously considering slowing the pace of a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Pakistani support has been seen as crucial in recent moves to persuade the Taleban to talk to the Afghan government to end their 13-year insurgency.
The brief military statement announcing Akhtar’s trip said only that he would “discuss issues related to intelligence” with his counterparts, whom it did not name.
But Pakistani security analyst Hasan Askari said the meetings would almost certainly touch on the issue of Taleban talks.