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US in horns of dilemma over future ties with 'complicated' ally Pakistan

June 16, 2011 - Washington

The United States has acknowledged "challenges" in its relations with Pakistan following a report about the Inter-Services Intelligence's arrest of informants who helped American intelligence locate and hunt down elusive Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Pakistan's top military spy agency had arrested five Pakistanis who fed information to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the months leading up to the US military raid on bin Laden's hideout in Abbottabad, The New York Times reported, citing American officials.

At a Washington policy forum, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said without elaboration that Pakistan had done "more than" arrest the informants, Voice Of America (VOA) reports.

Senator Graham also lamented leaks from a closed Senate intelligence briefing that apparently spurred the NYT report.

At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney said that US relations with Pakistan are "complicated," but that anti-terrorism cooperation with Pakistan is vital to American interests.

Meanwhile, State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said the parade of high-level US visitors to Pakistan since the May 2 raid underlines the commitment of the two countries to "work through" their problems.

"I think we've been up-front about challenges in the relationship. But we've also been consistent in saying that Pakistan and the U.S. need each other," he said. "We need to work through these challenges, because it's in both of our long term, and short term frankly, interests to do so."

There were bipartisan expressions of concern from US Congress members about the CIA informants' detention report and earlier accounts of leaks of US-provided intelligence by the Pakistani security apparatus that foiled raids on militant bomb factories along the Pakistani-Afghan border, the report said.

Senator Graham called the intelligence incidents "a dynamic" that is undermining Congressional support for Pakistani aid, and which must stop.

"After bin Laden, if you're listening in Pakistan, it is almost impossible for an American politician to continue to help Pakistan," he said.

"The American people are so sour on this relationship. And having said that, as hard as I've been today on Pakistan, the worst thing we could do is abandon them. As long as there's some hope, I think we need to stay engaged," he added.


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