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CIA chief Panetta leaves without Pakistan deal

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, June 12 , IRNA -- Chief of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Leon Panetta left Islamabad after meeting with Pakistan's army chief and intelligence head but without a deal on resetting the relationship between the spy agencies, it was reported Sunday.

A leading Pakistani daily reported that Panetta, who had arrived in Pakistan on Friday evening, met Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and intelligence chief General Ahmad Shuja Pasha. He did not meet any other leaders of the country.

According to an army statement the two sides have discussed “framework for future intelligence sharing.”

Panetta’s departure without routine calls on President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani was seen by observers here as a sign of stalemate in his discussions with the military leadership, Dawn newspaper reported.

According to sources, Panetta was surprised by the rigidity shown by the military, which went to the extent of even declining an offer by Washington of security assistance.

However, government officials insisted that, unlike the past, this time he was not scheduled to meet anyone else, the newspaper said.

While General Kayani had, even before the CIA chief's visit, made it clear that the Army would not allow the CIA to carry out independent operations and that any future intelligence cooperation would be reciprocal and transparent, Panetta did little to pacify Pakistani generals and instead confronted them with “evidence of collusion with Taliban militants”.

This would further sour the relationship which had already been under strain since the start of this year and got worse after the May 2 Abbottabd raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, Dawn reported.

A defense source said the CIA chief, who is set to take over as the next US defense secretary, reportedly used this as an instance to tell the army and intelligence chiefs why America distrusted Pakistani military establishment and needed to have its own independent operations inside the country to deal with Al Qaeda and Taliban.

While in Pakistan, Panetta tried to convince the Pakistanis to allow some critical CIA operations to continue after the agency was asked to cut down its footprint. He also asked for some CIA operatives to be given visas to enable them to enter the country and work independently, the daily reported.

General Kayani and General Pasha were reported to have insisted on joint operations and intelligence sharing, but no independent operations. They said that a recently-constituted joint task force for coordination of intelligence activities should be the nerve centre of any future ISI-CIA collaboration.

Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30427261

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