Washington, Dec 14 (IANS): In a bid to mollify a key ally, the United States has clarified that it has not cut aid to Pakistan and a proposed legislation only links it to checking the spread of home made bombs.
"Well, first of all, just to clarify what has and hasn't happened here, in our understanding, we have not cut $700 million in aid to Pakistan," State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters Tuesday in response to a question.
A Congressional panel had Monday agreed to freeze $700 million in US aid to Pakistan unless it helps in the fight against improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the region as part of a defence bill that is expected to be passed this week.
"What we have is something on the defence authorization bill, which is currently moving in the Congress," Nuland said.
"So, if this legislation becomes law, we'll work with the Government of Pakistan on how we can fulfil the requirements. But, this requires us to maintain a strategic perspective and to be clear with our Congress about the strategy," she said.
Asked to comment on reports that Islamabad was insisting on an apology for the NATO strike that killed 24 US soldiers to bring US-Pakistan relationship back on track, she said: "While this relationship is sometimes difficult, it's very important for the United States and Pakistan to continue to work together"
US-Pakistan relations, which have been strained since the May 2 US raid killing Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, hit a new low over a Nov 26 NATO airstrike killing 24 Pakistani soldiers near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.