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Pakistan's army chief meets with US defense secretary

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan's powerful military chief met Wednesday in Washington with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other security and government officials, the military said.

Qamar Javed Bajwa’s trip to the United States comes weeks before he's expected to retire after an extended six-year tenure. Although Pakistan has been ruled by the elected civilian leadership since 2008 when the former military dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf resigned, the military still maintains influence.

The military has directly ruled Pakistan for more than half of the country's 75-year history.

According to a military statement, Bajwa in his meeting with the U.S. defense chief and other officials thanked them for extending help to flood-hit Pakistan, where deluges since mid-June have killed nearly 1,700.

The statement said Bajwa expressed his condolences over the devastation caused by the hurricane in Florida, saying Pakistan understands the loss and pain of victims of a devastating storm.

Pakistan has not named Bajwa's successor.