Pakistan: Ties With US Still on Hold

Posted January 19th, 2012 at 12:45 pm (UTC-5)
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(updates with more quotes from Khar in grafs 7, 10, State Dept. comment in last graf))

Pakistan's foreign minister says relations with the United States remain on hold following November's NATO attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers along the Afghan border.

Hina Rabbani Khar told Reuters news agency Thursday that Pakistan cannot begin to re-engage with the U.S. until it finishes re-evaluating bilateral ties.

The comments come just days after Pakistan delayed a visit by U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman until a parliamentary committee completes its review of U.S.-Pakistan relations.

Grossman is leading a delegation to Afghanistan this week to get Afghan President Hamid Karzai's approval for the resumption of preliminary peace talks with the Taliban.

Pakistan's foreign minister tells Reuters that Washington should not push Islamabad to get involved in the Afghan peace process or go after militant networks until Pakistan finishes re-evaluating its ties with the United States.

Khar said the U.S. needs to be patient and that any pressure would only hurt efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan.

She noted that the parliamentary committee could unveil its recommendations for relations with the United States within days.

The November 26 NATO attack on a Pakistani military post plunged U.S.-Pakistan relations to a new low point.

Last May, a U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad infuriated Pakistan, which was not made aware of the U.S. operation beforehand.

The Pakistani foreign minister did strike a positive note in her interview, telling Reuters that re-evaluating ties will give both countries the ability to strengthen their partnership and make it much more effective. She said that Pakistan considers its relationship with the U.S. to be an “extremely important one.”

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the U.S.-Pakistan relationship should be “broad and deep,” going beyond just the area of security. She said that the full civilian relationship has been moving forward since the November attack and that U.S. civilian aid has continued to flow to Pakistan.