U.S. Secretary of Defense Hagel Talks Drones With Pakistani PM Sharif

Chuck Hagel to clear the air with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif following controversy over American drone strikes

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U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel speaks to American troops at the Kandahar Air Base, in Afghanistan, on Dec. 8, 2013

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel met Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday in an attempt to mend inflamed relations between the quarreling allies.

Hagel, who is the first Secretary of Defense to visit Pakistan in almost four years, was expected to address ongoing antiterrorism cooperation with Sharif following the appointment of the country’s new military chief General Raheel Sharif, reports al-Jazeera. (The general and the Prime Minister are not related.)

The allies’ tenuous relationship was ensnared in controversy again after a suspected U.S. drone strike killed Hakimullah Mehsud, the head of the Pakistani Taliban, last month. The operation came on the eve of talks between the militant group and Islamabad representatives.

Protests ensued and NATO supply routes to neighboring Afghanistan were blocked by angry crowds as politicians stoked zealous aversion to the unmanned air strikes.