US Agrees to Limit Troops in Pakistan

Posted September 21st, 2011 at 5:08 pm (UTC-5)
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The United States has agreed to limit the number of its military personnel stationed in Pakistan.

Pakistan called for the reduction after U.S. special forces killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad on May 2 without coordinating the attack with the Pakistani government. That raid, launched from Afghanistan, further strained ties between the United States and Pakistan.

Earlier this week, unnamed U.S. officials said that under the new agreement the number of U.S. troops helping to train Pakistan's military in counterinsurgency will be cut by half to between 100 and 150. The number of elite special operations trainers will also be reduced from around 140 to as few as a dozen.

Meanwhile, U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller met with Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik in Islamabad Wednesday to discuss ways to bolster counterterrorism cooperation. Details of the meeting were not immediately available.

U.S. officials have accused Islamabad of maintaining links with militants of the Taliban-and al-Qaida-allied Haqqani network based in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region. Pakistani authorities reject the accusation.

Last week, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter cited evidence linking the Pakistani government to the group and said those ties must be severed.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, said there is a “proxy connection” between Pakistani spy agency and the Haqqanis.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told her Pakistani counterpart, Hina Rabbani Khar, that the Haqqani militants “must be dealt with,” while Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said the U.S. will do whatever it takes to protect U.S. forces in Afghanistan from attacks by the militants.

The U.S. and NATO have blamed the Haqqani network for attacks on coalition troops and on U.S. targets, including the September 13 strike against the U.S. embassy in Kabul.