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Pentagon not to pay Pakistan $300 million in military reimbursements

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(Last Updated On: August 4, 2016)

2016-08-04T092647Z_2_LYNXNPEC7303S_RTROPTP_2_USA-DEFENSEThe Pentagon will not pay Pakistan $300 million in military reimbursements after U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter decided not to tell Congress that Pakistan was taking adequate action against the Haqqani network, a U.S. official said.

Relations between the two countries have been frayed over the past decade, with U.S. officials frustrated by what they term Islamabad’s unwillingness to act against Islamist groups such as the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network.

“The funds could not be released to the Government of Pakistan at this time because the Secretary has not yet certified that Pakistan has taken sufficient action against the Haqqani network,” Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said on Wednesday.

The $300 million comes under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), a U.S. Defense Department program to reimburse allies that have incurred costs in supporting counter-terrorist and counter-insurgency operations. Pakistan is the largest recipient.

“This decision does not reduce the significance of the sacrifices that the Pakistani military has undertaken over the last two years,” Stump said.

According to Pentagon data, about $14 billion has already been paid to Pakistan under the CSF since 2002.

The decision by the Pentagon is a sign that while it sees some progress by Pakistan in its military operations in North Waziristan, much work remains.

Pakistan rejects harboring militants but says there are limits to how much it can do as it is already fighting multiple Islamist groups and is wary of a “blowback” in the form of more militant attacks on its soil.

“Pakistan does not draw any distinction between any terrorists and we have taken up the fight against terrorism and the terrorist elements within Pakistan,” Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria told reporters in Islamabad on Thursday.

“These reimbursements enable the United States to support Pakistan’s ongoing counterterrorism efforts in a manner that serves shared interests of both the countries.”

Relations between the United States and Pakistan were tested in May by a U.S. drone strike that killed Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour on Pakistani soil.

There has been growing resistance in the U.S. Congress to sending money to Pakistan. Many lawmakers have expressed concern about its nuclear program, commitment to fighting terrorist organizations and cooperation in the Afghanistan peace process.

In March, Republican Senator Bob Corker said he would use his power as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to bar any U.S. funding for Islamabad’s purchase of $700 million of Lockheed Martin Corp F-16 fighter jets.

 

Reuters

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Turkish, US foreign ministers hold bilaterals on NATO summit sidelines

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(Last Updated On: December 1, 2021)

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his US counterpart Antony Blinken met on the sidelines of NATO summit in Latvian capital Riga on Wednesday Two foreign ministers held bilateral talks at the Atta Center, where the NATO Foreign Ministers summit was underway.

Before the meeting, Cavusoglu said Turkey is in contact with Ukraine and Russia to ease tensions, adding that sanctions on Moscow will not solve the crisis.

Ukrainian and Western officials say Moscow has massed forces on the border with Ukraine, which is battling Russia-backed separatists who control part of its territory to the east, and Kyiv on Wednesday urged NATO to prepare sanctions on Russia.

Cavusoglu and Blinken were expected to discuss latest developments in the region, including Ukraine, Libya and Afghanistan.

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Three Russian aircraft with humanitarian aid arrive in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: December 1, 2021)

Three Russian aircraft landed in Kabul on Wednesday carrying 36 tonnes of humanitarian aid, Russia’s TASS news agency reported.

All three Russian Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft, involved in delivering humanitarian aid to Afghanistan would also evacuate Russian citizens, as well as citizens of the Collective Security Treaty Organization member states, Russia’s Defense Ministry, said in a statement.

“Some three Ilyushin Il-76 strategic airlifters of the Russian Defense Ministry have delivered humanitarian aid to the Kabul airport and are boarding evacuees for departure from Afghanistan,” the statement read.

A total of over 380 Russians, citizens of the CSTO member states (mainly Kyrgyzstan), and Afghan students from Russian universities will fly out on the departing planes, the ministry said.

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India considers re-opening mission in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: December 1, 2021)

As countries slowly start reopening their embassies in Kabul, India is also reportedly considering the possibility of re-staffing its mission in Afghanistan.

So far, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, Qatar, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan all have a diplomatic presence in the country.

Japan and the EU have also discussed the possibility of returning to Afghanistan.

One senior Indian official told The Hindu on Wednesday that “establishing a presence in Afghanistan has nothing to do with recognition [of the IEA government]. It simply means that you would like to have people on the ground dealing with the new regime, to continue engagement with the people.”

He said the Modi government is not convinced about the need to re-open its mission, but that discussions are continuing on what India’s strategy should be, The Hindu reported.

At present, the Indian Embassy in Kabul, which was evacuated within two days of the IEA talking control, is intact and being guarded by IEA forces.

While calls from within the country to reopen grow, officials told The Hindu that much depends on what India’s other partners and friendly countries choose to do.

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