Pakistan military denies return of US trainers
Islamabad: The Pakistani military on Thursday denied claims by US officials that a group of American trainers had returned to the country several months after their departure following a deadly NATO air strike that had killed 24 soldiers.
"The news of returning of US trainers to Pakistan is not correct," said a brief statement from the Pakistani military.
An unnamed US official had been quoted by the media as saying that nearly 10 military trainers were back in Pakistan as a sign of a thaw in the bilateral relationship.
The official said US special forces soldiers had been sent to a training site near Peshawar, where they will instruct trainers from Pakistan`s Frontier Corps in counter-insurgency warfare.
Pakistan had sought the withdrawal of US trainers after the NATO air strike hit two of its border posts in the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan in November.
In an angry reaction to the death of 24 soldiers, Pakistan also closed supply routes for NATO troops in Afghanistan.
Islamabad also forced US personnel to vacate a strategically important airbase in southwestern Balochistan that was considered a hub for CIA-operated drones.
Pakistan and the US have so far failed to agree on new terms for reopening the NATO supply lines.
Islamabad is reportedly demanding USD 5,000 for every NATO container and tanker as transit fees, a demand that has been rejected by US officials.
Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said on Sunday that the United States would not be "gouged" by Pakistan on the charges for NATO supplies.
Some US lawmakers have described Pakistani demands as extortion, reflecting deep mistrust between the allies in the war on terror.