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CIA chief in Pakistan to remove mistrust

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, June 11, IRNA -- The American CIA chief, Leon Panetta, has met Pakistan’s army chief and intelligence head in a move to remove the mistrust caused by the US unilateral raid to kill Osama bin Laden in Abboatabad on May 2.

This is the first visit to Pakistan of the CIA chief after the killing of the al-Qaeda chief.

Leon Panetta had told the US lawmakers a day after the Abbotabad operation that Pakistan has either been involved in sheltering Osama bin Laden or incompetent to know about his presence in Pakistan.

The CIA chief statement had caused rift in bilateral relationship but later top US diplomats, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said that no Pakistani in high level had been involved in hiding Osama bin Laden.

“Mr Leon Panetta, Director Central Intelligence Agency, United States called on Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. Both sides discussed the framework for future intelligence sharing,” a brief Pakistan’s army statement said Friday night.

Pakistani leaders and parliament had condemned the US raid to kill Osama bin Laden and had called for view of relationship with the US and reduction in the presence of American security personnel in Pakistan.

The CIA chief met Pakistan army and intelligence chiefs at a time when the United States embassy said that the number of United States military personnel in Pakistan has been reduced following a request from the government of Pakistan.

“We recently received a written request from the Government of Pakistan to reduce the number of U.S. military personnel here, and we have nearly completed that reduction,” said Vice Adm. Michael LeFever, Chief of the Office of the Defense Representative-Pakistan.

The statement came a day after Pakistan's top military commanders were informed that the army has ‘drastically cut down the strength of US troops’ stationed in the country.

Top army commanders were told that the Army had never accepted any training assistance from the US except for training on the newly inducted weapons and some training assistance for the Frontier Corps only, which performs anti-terror duties along the borders and tribal regions.

“We’ve been honored to partner with the Pakistan military and we believe our service members here provide excellent support to Pakistan’s military in the fight against violent extremists,” said Vice Adm. Michael LeFever, in a statement.

The statement did not mention number of the US security personnel and that how many have been sent back.

US military personnel in Pakistan included trainers who work with Pakistani security forces. The total number of US military forces in Pakistan was determined at the request of and in conjunction with the government and military of Pakistan, the embassy statement said.

When the Government of Pakistan requested assistance, the US remained ready to help with the security requirements of Pakistan, said LeFever.

Pakistan's army commanders were informed of the extent of intelligence cooperation with the US and it has been decided to share intelligence strictly on the basis of reciprocity and complete transparency.

“It has been clearly put across to US intelligence officials that no intelligence agency can be allowed to carry out independent operation on our soil,” the army statement said.

Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30425624

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