U.S., Pakistan Vow To Rebuild Trust
Last updated (GMT/UTC): 16.05.2011 14:33
U.S. Senator John Kerry says he and Pakistani leaders have agreed on a "series of steps" to get their nations' relationship "back on track."
He was speaking during a visit to Islamabad amid high tensions over the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden near Islamabad.
Kerry also said that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is to announce plans to visit Pakistan soon.
The influential chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee is the first senior U.S. envoy to visit Pakistan since the Al-Qaeda leader was killed by U.S. commandos in his Abbottabad hideout on May 2.
A statement released by the office of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani quoted him as saying that "Pakistan and the U.S. should rebuild the trust and confidence between their governments and institutions."
Pakistan has vowed to review intelligence cooperation with the United States.
Pakistan has welcomed bin Laden's killing, but it has criticized the U.S. operation as a violation of its sovereignty. Pakistan's Foreign Ministry called it an "unauthorized and unilateral action," while parliament said the government should consider cutting supply lines through Pakistan for U.S. forces in Afghanistan if another "unilateral" assault occurs.
Washington, in turn, suspects some officials in Pakistan must have known that bin Laden and his family were hiding in Abbottabad, in a large compound not far from a military training center.
Kerry arrived in Pakistan from Afghanistan, where he told reporters his talks in Pakistan had to "resolve some very serious issues."
He also said "there is some evidence" that Pakistani authorities know where Taliban safe havens harboring the militants' leaders are located.
"This is a critical moment in terms of the relationship with Pakistan," Kerry said. "It is fair to say that some of my colleagues in the House and Senate have deep reservations about whether or not Pakistan is committed with the same goals or prepared to be a full partner in pursuing those goals. And there are calls in some quarters in Congress for a shift in the aid program unless there is an improvement in the current situation."
Pakistan has received some $18 billion in U.S. aid since the September 11, 2001, attacks after Islamabad officially pledged to end its support for Afghanistan's Taliban and become a U.S. partner in the fight against terror.
In 2009, Kerry helped to broker a $7.5 billion aid package by the U.S. Congress to build schools, roads, and democratic institutions in Pakistan.
The situation in the nuclear-armed Muslim nation of over 170 million remains unstable. While Kerry's talks with the Pakistani leadership were under way, gunmen shot dead a Saudi diplomat in the city of Karachi. The diplomat was driving to work when unidentified men on motorcycles attacked him. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility.
The incident comes days after two hand grenades were thrown at the Saudi consulate in Karachi. Al-Qaeda has long opposed the Saudi government, which they see as a close ally of the West, as well as Pakistan.
compiled from agency reports
Copyright (c) 2011. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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