US in no hurry to cut aid to Pakistan

US in no hurry to cut aid to Pakistan

The move to mollify an enraged Islamabad came Tuesday after leaders of a bipartisan House and Senate panel agreed to freeze the aid to Pakistan unless it helps check the spread of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the region as part of a defence bill that is expected to be passed this week.

But a State Department spokesperson Tuesday explained that the aid freeze was only a proposal in a pending legislation and even if it became a law, the Obama administration would find ways of complying with it.

"Well, first of all, just to clarify what has and hasn't happened here, in our understanding, we have not cut $700 million in aid to Pakistan," Victoria Nuland told reporters in response to a question about the agreement among the leaders of the armed services committees from both the houses.

"What we have is something on the defence authorisation bill, which is currently moving in the Congress," Nuland said. "So, if this legislation becomes law, we'll work with the government of Pakistan on how we can fulfil the requirements. But, this requires us to maintain a strategic perspective and to be clear with our Congress about the strategy," she said.

Asked to comment on reports that Islamabad was insisting on an apology for the NATO strike that killed 24 US soldiers to bring US-Pakistan relationship back on track, she said: "While this relationship is sometimes difficult, it's very important for the US and Pakistan to continue to work together."

US-Pakistan relations, which have been strained since the May 2 US raid killing Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, hit a new low over the Nov 26 NATO air strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

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