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US top commander in Pakistanís tension defuse mission

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Rawalpindi, July 13, IRNA -- Commander of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), General James N. Mattis, has arrived in Pakistan in an apparent move to defuse tension with Pakistan over suspension of US military aid to the close ally.

The US announced on Sunday it has suspended payment of $800 million aid to the Pakistan army as Islamabad has taken certain steps which justified cancellation of the assistance.

US media reports that the US took the decision after Pakistan expelled over 100 American military trainers. The move is also aimed at mounting pressure on Pakistan to take more steps against the militants, according to reports. The US media said that Pakistan has also refused visas to US military officers, which also annoyed the Obama administration.

Pakistan Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar Tuesday warned in a TV interview that his government will withdraw troops from the tribal regions if the US cuts military aid.

The US suspension of military aid would also affect $300 million for expenses of troops Pakistan has deployed along the Afghan border to check illegal cross border movement.

Mukhtar warned that US aid suspension can harm Pakistan campaign against al-Qaeda and Taliban.

But Pakistan Corps Commanders in a meeting Tuesday ‘reiterated the resolve to fight the menace of terrorism in our own national interest using our own resources’, an army statement said.

The CENTCOM chief met Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Khalid Shameem Wynne and discussed matters related to regional security situation with special emphasis on war on terror, a brief army statement said.

The statement did not give any further details of the meeting but it is believed that tension over aid suspension prominently figured in the talks.

General James N. Mattis is the first top US commander to visit Pakistan after the US suspended military aid to Pakistan, which analysts believe may harm ties between the two armies – close allies in war against al-Qaeda and Taliban.

Relations between the US and Pakistan deteriorated after a CIA undercover agent Raymond Davis was arrested in Lahore in February for killing two Pakistanis.

Relationship between the two armies and intelligence institutions were hit by US unilateral action to kill Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad on May 2. Pakistan had condemned the attack and asked the US to withdraw its intelligence agents and military trainers.

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