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Up to Pakistan to decide US presence: Mullen

A US squad killed Osama at a Pakistan compound without informing Islamabad.



Washington: The US military`s top officer said on Thursday it was up to Pakistan`s leaders if they wanted American troops to remain in the country, amid anger in Islamabad over a US raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, "has repeatedly noted that the small number of US military trainers in Pakistan are there at the invitation of the Pakistani government, and therefore subject to that government`s prerogatives," his spokesman, Captain John Kirby, said in an e-mail to a news agency.

After a US squad killed bin Laden on Monday at a Pakistan compound without informing Islamabad in advance, the country`s military said army chief General Ashfaq Kayani wanted to reduce the number of US military personnel in Pakistan to "the minimum level" and that any similar raid would result in a review of further cooperation with Washington.

Mullen had not been notified of any decision by Pakistan on the presence of the US contingent of trainers, his spokesman said.

"He has seen press reporting that those prerogatives might be changing, but until such time as he has been officially informed of such by General Kayani, the chairman will withhold comment," the statement said.

Mullen "continues to believe in the importance of our military partnership with Pakistan," it added.

The Pentagon said last year there are about 200 US special operations forces in Pakistan providing training in counter-insurgency.

The CIA also carries out frequent drone bombing raids in Pakistan`s northwest tribal belt against al Qaeda and Taliban militants, a campaign that the US government declines to acknowledge directly.

Bureau Report

From Zee News

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