Islamabad - Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi has said that Pakistan wishes to further build on its relationship with the United States on the basis of mutual respect and mutuality of interests.

He made these remarks while talking to representatives of Pakistan and US media at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington. The Naval chief is in Washington to attend the International Seapower Symposium (ISS). This is the first high-level visit by any Pakistan civil or military official since the new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan which was sworn-in last month.

The Naval Chief said that Pakistan was a very active member of Combined Task Force 151 (CTF 151) which took part in counter piracy and anti narcotics operations. The multinational naval task force was set up in 2009 as a response to piracy attacks, he said.

Its mission was to disrupt piracy and armed robbery at sea and engage with regional and other partners to build and improve capacities to protect global maritime commerce and secure freedom of navigation, he added.

The Naval chief said that Pakistan would be holding a multilateral naval exercise in February 2019 in which 50 navies from around the world would participate including Chinese and the US navies.

This showed Pakistan was an important member of the comity of nations in the field of maritime security and our aim was to remain an effective partner in this area, he added.

Commenting on the Pakistan-US relationship, the Naval chief stated that Pakistan wished to further build on its relationship with the US based on mutual respect and mutuality of interests.

He also reiterated Pakistan's position on the Afghan conflict and said that it would continue to support international efforts for peace in Afghanistan.

He said that the government believed that an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process was the only way forward.

In a statement issued in Islamabad, Navy’s spokesperson said that during the visit the Naval Chief also met Congresswoman Sheila Jackson, Acting Asia Pacific (DoD Policy), Randall Shriver, President Centre for New American Security, Richard Fontaine, Vice President Heritage, Dr James Jay Carafano and CEO Atlantic Council, Fredrick Kempe in separate meetings.

During the meetings, matters of mutual interest including bilateral defence ties and security environment in Indian Ocean Region were discussed.

The Naval Chief highlighted that Pakistan and US shared common perspective of having stable, secure and peaceful maritime environment to support global economy.

Overall Pakistan’s commitment and performance in fight against terrorism and particularly Pakistan Navy’s efforts for maintaining regional peace and security were also highlighted.

The Admiral reiterated the need for enhancing global efforts to effectively confront the trans-national challenges and threats in the maritime domain.

US dignitaries appreciated the role and contribution of Pakistan for maintaining peace and stability in the maritime domain.

Interactions and round table discussions with prominent US Think Tanks and academia were also held.

During the discussion, while underscoring the challenges to Indian Ocean security, the Admiral elaborated Pakistan’s initiative of Regional Maritime Security Patrol (RMSP) which is solely aimed to shoulder international obligations towards safe and secure maritime environment in the region.

Earlier, Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi also met Ambassador of Pakistan to US, Ali Jehangir Siddiqui.

A media interaction with Pakistani and international media personnel was also held. During the interaction, the Naval Chief highlighted Pakistan’s Maritime Perspective with special focus on PN contributions to regional maritime security and opportunities offered by CPEC to the region.

The Admiral briefed that Gwadar is purely a commercial harbour and so far no foreign warship has entered GwadarPort.

Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi also mentioned that as an ardent supporter of regional peace and collaborative maritime security, Pakistan Navy has planned to conduct Multinational Naval Exercise AMAN-19 wherein around 50 countries are expected to join hands for a common resolve of ‘Together for Peace’.