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Obama admin taking a clear-eyed approach on Pak

Washington: The US, which has suspended nearly USD 800 million in military aid to Pakistan following its reluctance to go full throttle in the war on terror, says it has adopted a very "clear-eyed approach" towards Islamabad.

Senior Obama administration officials insisted that Washington was weighing both the importance of a continued long-term relationship with Pakistan and the importance of near-term action on key issues.

"We are taking a very clear-eyed approach – weighing both the importance of a continued long-term relationship with Pakistan and the importance of near-term action on key issues – to our relationship with Pakistan and will continue to work with their leaders to affirm the importance of cooperating towards our shared national security objectives," a senior administration official said.

White House Chief of Staff William Daley in an interview to the ABC news channel yesterday confirmed that the US has suspended some USD 800 million in military aid to Pakistan as it wants Islamabad to adhere to and commit certain actions which it wants in the war against terrorism.

The military aid running into millions of dollars would remain suspended till the time, the United States gets what it wants from Pakistan, Pentagon insisted.

In a meeting with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee here last month, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon said the US would not cut off its relationship with Pakistan, even as going forward it would strictly seek accountability from Pakistan and would strictly enforce "no free pass" policy with it.

"A series of events over the last eight months have affected our bilateral relations. As a result, the Pakistan Army has requested a significant cutback of US military trainers, and limited our ability to obtain visas," Pentagon spokesman Col Dave Lapan explained giving rational behind such an extreme step coming from the United States.

"While the Pakistani military leadership tells us this is a temporary step, the reduced presence of our trainers and other personnel means we can`t deliver the assistance that requires training and support to be effective," he said.

"Yep," Donilon said when asked by a news channel about deferring of some USD 800 million aid to Pakistan. The amount is about one-third of the US security aid to Pakistan.

An indication in this regard had come from none other Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a recent Congressional testimony.

"… when it comes to our military aid, we are not prepared to continue providing that at the pace we were providing it unless and until we see certain steps taken," Clinton told the Congressional committee last month.

Lapan said it is important to note that all of the military assistance that the US provides to Pakistan is in response to Pakistani requests.

"We remain committed to helping Pakistan build its capabilities, but we have communicated to Pakistani officials on numerous occasions that we require certain support in order to provide certain assistance," he said.

"Working together, allowing an appropriate presence for US military personnel, providing necessary visas, and affording appropriate access are among the things that would allow us to effectively provide assistance," Lapan said, indicating that Pentagon wants Pakistan to remove visa restrictions and allow continued presence of its trainers inside Pakistan for the military aid to continue.

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