US Defence Secretary made `no threats`: Pakistan

Pakistan on Tuesday dismissed media reports that US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel had warned that an American aid programme was linked to NATO supply routes to Afghanistan being kept open.

PTI| Updated: Dec 10, 2013, 19:55 PM IST

Islamabad: Pakistan on Tuesday dismissed media reports that US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel had warned that an American aid programme was linked to NATO supply routes to Afghanistan being kept open.

"There were no threats," Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry told a news channel.

A statement from the Foreign Office said Hagel`s meetings with Pakistani leaders here yesterday were held in a "friendly and cordial atmosphere".

It said Hagel "raised the importance of keeping the ground supply routes out of Afghanistan opened and thanked the Prime Minister for his government?s continued support".

The two sides discussed a range of issues of mutual interest and agreed to work to strengthen relations. They also reaffirmed the importance of the Pakistan-US strategic partnership for peace and stability, the statement said.

Western media reports quoting unnamed US defence officials had said Hagel warned Pakistani leaders that if they did not resolve protests stalling military shipments across the border with Afghanistan, it could be difficult to maintain political support in Washington for an aid programme that has funnelled billions of dollars to Islamabad.

Movement of NATO supplies to and from Afghanistan have been hit by a blockade launched by Imran Khan`s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party two weeks ago to protest US drone strikes.

The Foreign Office statement said Pakistani leaders conveyed to Hagel deep concern over US drone strikes, which were counter-productive to efforts to combat terrorism.

Hagel assured Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that the US administration was engaged with Congress to "ensure that the cooperation with Pakistan was not impacted negatively", it said.