Washington, Aug 28 : In order to chalk out a strategy to combat the escalating violence along the Pak-Afghan border, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff secretly convened a secret meeting of the most senior American and Pakistani commanders on an aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean on Tuesday.
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 privy to what was discussed at the meeting.
While the American and Pakistani officials offered few details about what was decided 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, reported the New York Times.
Among those who participated in the day-long conference included Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, chief of staff of the Pakistani Army.
The decision to hold such a meeting was taken last month when Admiral Mullen met with Pakistan Army Chief Gen Kayani just a month ago in Islamabad.
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 safe 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," the US daily quoted one American military official who was briefed on the talks.