News Pak-US relationship critical to win Afghan war: Panetta

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Mar 5, 2010
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta expressed confidence today that the United States and Pakistan can patch up their differences, emphasizing that "ultimately, we can t win the war in Afghanistan without being able to win in our relationship with Pakistan as well."

The secretary said restoring the strained relationship with the United States critical to long-term progress in Afghanistan. "I think it is going to be important, as we are able to move and progress in our efforts in Afghanistan, that we continue to do outreach in Pakistan," he said.

"It is essential to stability in that region that we not only achieve a peaceful resolution with regards to Afghanistan, but that we are able to develop a more stable relationship with Pakistan as well," he said. "If that region is ever going to find peace, it is going to happen not only by achieving stability in Afghanistan, but also by achieving some degree of stability in Pakistan as well."

The U.S. relationship with Pakistan has been "difficult and complicated," Panetta conceded. "But it is an important relationship, and it is one we have to continue to work at."

The secretary noted that Pakistan has provided important cooperation to the United States. "At the same time, we have had some serious difficulties with regards to some of the operations that involve groups in the FATA (federally administered tribal areas) and groups along the border," he said.

Strain between the two countries increased after the May 2 raid that took down Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, and intensified after a Nov. 26 engagement near Pakistan s border with Afghanistan that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.