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MD
Monitoring Desk
January 12, 2018

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Pakistan suspension of cooperation not confirmed: US

Pakistan suspension of cooperation not confirmed: US

ISLAMABAD: The United States says it has not been officially notified that Pakistan has suspended military or intelligence cooperation with Washington.

A State Department official told VOA on Wednesday "we have not received any formal communication from the government of Pakistan regarding a suspension."

A day earlier, Pakistan's Defense Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan said there is "a wide field of intelligence cooperation and defence cooperation, which we have suspended." He made the statement during a speech on Tuesday to the Islamabad-based, government-sponsored Institute for Strategic Studies.

But Khan noted the supply lines for Nato troops in Afghanistan, formally known as the Ground Lines of Communication or the Air Lines of Communication are still open.

The statement comes days after the Trump administration announced the suspension of some $1.9 billion in security assistance to Islamabad, citing what it said was the Pakistani government's refusal to take more decisive action against terrorism. In Washington, when asked about the defence minister's statement suspending cooperation, the State Department said it hopes Pakistan would understand United States' seriousness and "appreciate the value of this relationship."

"We stand ready to work with Pakistan in combating all terrorists without distinction, and we hope to be able to renew and deepen our bilateral security relationship when Pakistan demonstrates its willingness to aggressively confront the Taliban network, the Haqqani Network, and other terrorist and military groups that operate from its territory," Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Steve Goldstein told reporters on Tuesday.

Goldstein added the United States is "hopeful that Pakistan will come back to the table" and assist in US efforts to combat terrorism. Robin Raphel, a former assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, told VOA on Wednesday Washington and Islamabad's current policy of tit-for-tat will not advance either side's interest. The US announce last Thursday it would not deliver military equipment or transfer security-related funds to Pakistan, suspending the so-called Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and Coalition Support Funds (CSF) but not civilian assistance to that country.

On Monday, a Pentagon spokesman said the United States had conveyed to Pakistan "concrete steps" to take before the United States would resume hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, which was suspended after US President Donald Trump said Pakistan had lied and deceived the United States while providing safe havens to terrorists fighting in Afghanistan.

Pakistan says the United States is scapegoating it for US failures in Afghanistan.

In his Tuesday speech, Pakistani Defence Minister Khan also reminded the United States it needs Pakistan in its fight against terrorism in Afghanistan. "A reminder is in order. Logistics trump strategy," he said.

Pakistan blocked the US & Nato troop supply route for months after a 2011 attack by Nato air force accidentally hit two Pakistani check posts, killing more than two dozen Pakistani soldiers.

Pakistan is considered the safest and cheapest route to resupply Nato troops. Other possible routes that go through Central Asian countries are more expensive and pass through a region Russia considers its backyard. Tensions between the United States and Russia have been high since Russia was accused of meddling in the latest US presidential elections.

"We always look at that," said Goldstein when asked if Washington is assessing alternative routes should Pakistan blocks supply routes to Afghanistan. He added that the US is suspending but not cutting off permanently security aid to Pakistan.

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