WASHINGTON - The United States will host the 23rd Defence Consultative Group meeting with Pakistan at Pentagon this week to discuss bilateral cooperation amid "warming relations" between the two countries.

The meeting is taking places a few days after theUnited States handed over Latif Mehsud, a senior Pakistani Taliban leader beingheld by the Americans at Bagram Airfield, to Pakistan."Mehsud’s release was ostensibly part of a continuing process to repatriateforeign prisoners from American detention facilities in Afghanistan before theconclusion of the formal combat mission at the end of this month," The New York Times said in a dispatch. "But in Pakistan, several officials saidthey viewed the transfer as part of a developing thaw in the country’spreviously strained relations with both Afghanistan and the United States,which have improved after a flurry of meetings in recent months," according to the newspaper.

"Relations between Pakistan and theUnited States also appeared to be on the upswing after a series of attacks onmajor Qaeda targets in Pakistan’s tribal belt in recent days that havereinforced counterterrorism efforts in the country." "Since coming to power in September,", the Times added,  "theAfghan president, Ashraf Ghani, has made a concerted effort to improverelations with Pakistan, a country that his predecessor, Hamid Karzai,regularly accused of supporting the Afghan Taliban."

 The DCG is a working group under the U.S.-Pakistan strategic dialogue framework, and provides a forum for exchanging views and coordinating defence policy with the goal of strengthening defence cooperation. The DCG last met in November 2013.

Defence Secretary Lt. Gen. (retd.) Muhammad Alam Khattak will lead the Pakistani side at the Dec. 9-10 meeting. Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Ishfaq Nadeem is also attending.

An interim progress review was held in Pakistan in September this year to consider progress on the last year's DCG meeting.