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US military contingent in Pakistan at govt's invitation: State Department

May 6, 2011 - Washington

Amid Pakistan's decision to reduce American military footprint in the country, the United States has said that its contingent is there at the invitation of the Pakistani Government to perform, train, and equip operations for its military.

Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, who had evaded capture for a decade, was killed Sunday night in a top secret operation involving a small team of US Special Forces in city, located 50 kilometres northeast of Islamabad and 150 kilometres east of Peshawar.

Enraged over America's unilateral military operation against bin Laden inside Pakistani territory, Pakistan has decided to cut the number of US military contingent on its soil.

In a conference held at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, which was chaired by Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, "the Corps Commanders were informed about the decision to reduce the strength of US military personnel in Pakistan to the minimum essential," the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.

When asked during a press briefing to comment on the Pakistan Army's statement that threatens to reduce US military presence in the country, Acting Deputy State Department Spokesman Mark C. Toner pointed out that American military personnel in Pakistan were there to support the Pakistan military.

"Look, the relatively small U.S. military contingent that's there - that is there is there at the invitation of the Pakistani Government, and they're there to perform, train, and equip operations for the Pakistani military," he said.

"I'd refer you to the Pakistani Government for more details on what they've said about that," he added.


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