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Gen. Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, talks with Pakistani Army 12th Heavy Mountain Division commander Brig. Gen. Khalid Nawaz during a visit to Muzaffarabad, Pakistan on Tuesday.
Gen. Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, talks with Pakistani Army 12th Heavy Mountain Division commander Brig. Gen. Khalid Nawaz during a visit to Muzaffarabad, Pakistan on Tuesday. (Anita Powell / S&S)

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan — During his first-ever visit to Pakistan, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Peter Pace offered encouragement and hope to American troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

To servicemembers stationed in Iraq, he directed his appreciation and offered encouragement.

“Thank you for your service,” he said Tuesday. “I don’t mean that glibly. You are making a difference. The Iraqi government is working hard to get a team together that’s representative of all the people.”

While he acknowledged that “there are things that are not going as well as we would like” in Iraq, he pointed to the growth of the Iraqi Army and increased Iraqi participation in security operations. He added that he expects to see a reduction in American presence as a result.

“I think it’s reasonable that as this year goes on, the size of our forces (in Iraq) will go down,” he said.

For troops in Afghanistan, he said, “they are in the middle of a success story.”

“Every day that goes by where Afghanistan is at relative peace is another day that strengthens the Afghan government and the Afghan people,” he said.

He commended the troops helping with earthquake relief in Pakistan for helping the war against terror in their own way.

“We did it because it’s the right thing to do, as did all the nations out there,” he said of the relief effort. “There’s no doubt that when you do the right thing and people see you do the right thing, it has a positive effect on the way they see the United States.”

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