A top American general has told Pakistan's army chief the US military does not intend to conduct any unilateral strikes inside the country and both sides emphasized the need for continued cooperation to fight terrorism, an official announcement said Friday.
The move, first announced by Trump in a New Year's Day tweet, sparked indignation in Pakistan, which has long denied the US accusations of militant support, and accused Washington of dismissing the sacrifices it has made in the war on extremism.
During the call, Votel told Bajwa that Washington is concerned about Afghans using Pakistan as a staging ground for attacks against the United States inside Afghanistan.
U.S. Central Command General Joseph Votel telephoned General Qamar Javed Bajwa this week and offered the assurance, said army spokesman Major-General Asif Ghafoor, while releasing details of the conversation.
The comment comes after President Donald Trump's administration withheld nearly $2 billion in security aid from Pakistan for allegedly failing to take "decisive action" against Taliban militants targeting U.S. personnel in neighboring Afghanistan, according to the Associated Press.
"U.S. Central Command is in continuous communication with the Pakistan military, including recurring conversations between General Votel and Pakistan Chief of Army Staff Bajwa", a statement said. These included that "the problems in ties were temporary, there would be no unilateral action against Pakistan and that the USA did not want a disruption in ties rather it wanted cooperation from Islamabad on areas of its concern".
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"(Bajwa) said that entire Pakistani nation felt betrayed over USA recent statements despite decades of cooperation", the army said, referring to the phone call between Bajwa and Votel. This comes after US President Donald Trump's accusations against Pakistan of "lies and deceit".
The Pakistani statement on Friday did not directly refer to Trump's tweet.
"We value mutual understanding of interests and concerns that we need to consider and might lead to a positive path forward", US Central Command spokesman Air Force Colonel John Thomas said. It also ignited speculation that the USA could resume drone strikes or launch operations along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, where militant groups once operated with impunity.
The official also cautioned that USA action to pressure Pakistan could extend beyond the new freeze in aid, if necessary.
Pakistan has been a key ally of the United States in war on terror since the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US, but relations have been strained between the two sides since Trump accused Islamabad of harboring terrorists.
However, the USA military is also concerned that the Pakistani army, which effectively runs foreign policy, might close the air and land corridors on which US-led troops and Afghan forces in landlocked Afghanistan depend for supplies.
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