CIA chief on visit to repair ties with Pakistan

The ties between the two countries were fractured by the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Islamabad: CIA Director Leon Panetta met over dinner on Friday with Pakistan`s spy chief and army head for talks on how to repair ties between the two countries that were fractured by the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden, a Pakistani and an American official said.

Panetta`s visit was his first to Pakistan since the unilateral American operation on May 2 killed the al Qaeda leader in a Pakistani army town, triggering an angry backlash by the powerful military. It is likely to be his last before he becomes the next US defense secretary.

American officials have said they want to rebuild a relationship vital to their fight against al-Qaida and their efforts to wind down the war in Afghanistan, but progress has been slow amid suspicions by some in Washington that elements within the security establishment here were sheltering bin Laden.

Pakistan, facing public anger over what was seen as an unacceptable violation of sovereignty, sent home most US Army trainers in the country and said Thursday it no longer wanted American financial assistance.

Panetta dined with army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and the head of the country`s main spy agency, Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, after arriving Friday, said the officials, who did not give their names to discuss the high-level meeting.

The men discussed ways to repair the relationship, including the setting up of a joint intelligence team to track down at least five other high-value militant targets inside Pakistan. The officials said that effort was going slowly.

It was not clear how long the men would stay. Their visit to Islamabad coincides with a trip by Afghan President Hamid Karzai that is likely to discuss the role Islamabad can play in negotiations with the Taliban to end the war in Afghanistan.

Other high-level American officials have visited Pakistan since the raid to try and take the edge off the dispute, including CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell, who met Pasha last month, and US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

After that outreach, Pakistan allowed the CIA to re-examine the bin Laden compound. Pakistan also returned the tail section of a US stealth Black Hawk helicopter that broke off when the Navy SEALs who conducted the raid blew up the disabled aircraft to destroy its secret noise-and-radar-deadening technology.

Bureau Report

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