US brands Haqqani a very close partner

Washington: Pakistan`s envoy to Washington may have lost the battle with the country`s powerful generals back home, but has won accolades here, with the White House describing him as "a very close partner". Though Obama Administration officials described the resignation of Husain Haqqani as an "internal issue" for Pakistan, they heaped praises on the envoy.

Breaking his silence on "memogate", Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told foreign correspondents at the Washington Foreign Press Center, "He`s been a very close partner, of course, with the United States and we`ve appreciated the work we`ve done with him. But at the same time we are certain that we will be able to work with whoever the next Pakistani ambassador is."

Haqqani, a close aide of President Asif Ali Zardari has played a key role in helping Pakistan`s civilian government navigate turbulent ties with Washington, which nosedived after the American raid that killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

US Senate Foreign Relations Committee`s powerful chairman John Kerry, who has also played a key role in rocky US-Pak ties, said in a statement that Haqqani would be missed in Washington. "I respect the Pakistani government`s decision, but Ambassador Haqqani`s wisdom and insights will be missed here in Washington as we continue to work through the ups and downs of our relationship," Kerry said.

The powerful Senator said he was sorry to learn of Haqqani`s resignation. "He was a strong advocate for his country and the Pakistani people." Kerry, who is the author of the popular Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill that ensured multi-billion aid to Pakistan by the Congress is one of the close confidants of US President Barack Obama on foreign policy issues, in particular those related to Pakistan.

In the past three years, Kerry has made several trips to Pakistan to improve the relationship between the two countries, be it the Raymond Davis case or handling of the US helicopter that was damaged during the operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader. Kerry is the first top American Congressman to come out in support of Haqqani.