Pakistan denies US threatened aid suspension

Pakistan Thursday rejected American media reports that US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has threatened suspension of millions of dollars in aid to the country if the main supply route to NATO troops in Afghanistan is not reopened.

IANS| Updated: Dec 12, 2013, 21:28 PM IST

Islamabad: Pakistan Thursday rejected American media reports that US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has threatened suspension of millions of dollars in aid to the country if the main supply route to NATO troops in Afghanistan is not reopened.

The ruling coalition in Pakistan`s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, a main supply route for foreign forces in neighbouring Afghanistan, has cut the line in protest against US drone attacks for three weeks.

The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, which leads the ruling coalition, has said that the NATO supply line will remain blocked unless the US stopped the drone strikes.

Hagel, during his daylong visit to Pakistan Monday, raised the issue of the NATO supply line in meetings with Pakistani civilian and military leaders and demanded its opening.

The US media quoted Hagel as telling the Pakistani leaders that "if they do not resolve protests halting the shipments, it could be difficult to maintain political support in Washington for an ongoing aid programme for the country".

The Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman in Islamabad, however, rejected these reports as baseless, Xinhua reported.

Foreign Office spokesperson Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry said that Pakistan has been continuing NATO supplies through southern routes.

"The US Defence Secretary Chuck Hegel held positive talks with Pakistani leadership during his recent visit," he told the media during a weekly briefing.

He said both sides discussed a wide range of issues including drones, NATO supplies and Afghan reconciliation process.

Chaudhry said Pakistan and the US have difference of opinion on the drone strikes in Pakistani territories.

He, however, said there are many areas where Pakistan and the US have convergence of interests, adding that, overall, Pakistan-US ties are on positive trajectory.

Meanwhile Advisor on Foreign Affairs to Prime Minister Sartaj Aziz Thursday said although a significant decrease has been noted in drone strikes this year, Pakistan wants an end to drone strikes.

Talking to the media in Islamabad, he said Pakistan wanted complete stoppage of drone strikes instead of any decrease in them.

Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan has been actively raising the issue at every international forum.