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US blocks Pakistan aid over trainers cut

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, July 15, IRNA -- Pakistan's Senate Foreign Affairs Committee was informed on Friday that the United States has cut 500 million dollars in aid to Pakistan in response to the cutback in the number of US trainers in Pakistan.

US officials said this week that 800 million dollars military aid to Pakistan has been blocked over certain actions by Pakistan, which they said had justified aid cut.

Pakistan's Deputy Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told the Senate Committee that the $500 million cut in US aid to Pakistan is due to the drop in US trainers in Pakistan.

She further said that the US also withheld $300 million from the Coalition Support Fund.

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.

According to the Foreign Office, the Standing Committee has proposed immediate suspension of all operations from the Shamsi Air Base in southwestern Balochistan province.

Pakistani media report that the US has been using Shamsi Air Base for drone strikes in the country's tribal regions. Pakistan Air Chief told the parliament in May that the base had been given in control of UAE and media reported that UAE had allowed the US to use the facility.

Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar said Pakistan has asked the US to vacate the air base, the request reportedly rejected by US officials.

The Senate's Standing Committee on Foreign Relations has ordered an investigation into the matter, official said.

The committee chairman Senator Salim Saifullah asked the government to provide details of all US trainers entering Pakistan.

He said there should be a formal understanding with the United States over the US-led war against terror and the visa policy. He further said that the authority to grant visas to foreigners should only rest with the foreign office.

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