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US downplays Clinton's threat to Pak

By Lalit K Jha
May 11, 2010 11:04 IST
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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not warn Islamabad of 'severe consequences' if a terrorist attack inside the United States was traced back to Pakistan, two top officials of the State Department clarified on Monday.

"I don't think she said that," Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P J Crowley told reporters when asked about the statement purportedly made by Clinton during an interview to CBS news on Sunday.

"I think she (Clinton) was responding to a hypothetical question that the United States would take seriously any link to a foreign country where there are successful terrorist attacks. She's not singling out any one country in particular," Crowley asserted.

US Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke, while addressing the media at the Washington Foreign Press Centre, said that CBS edited the interview and did not show the entire portion.

"As a result, the quotes appeared to be different than what the Secretary of State actually meant," he claimed.

Holbrooke also said America's aid to Pakistan would be affected as a result of recent developments which indicate that the Pakistani Taliban was responsible for the failed Times Square bombing attempt.

"She herself praised the Pakistan government for what it has done. And so, I urge you not to react to a misrepresentation of what she said, although I think that happens from time to time," Holbrooke said, urging journalists to get in touch with the State Department's spokesman for the full unedited transcripts of the interview.

According to a transcript of the interview released by the State Department, Clinton was asked, "Even in light of the Times Square bomber, you are comfortable with the cooperation you are getting from the Pakistani government?"

Clinton answered, "Well, no, I didn't say that. I said that we've gotten more cooperation and it's been a real sea-change in the commitment we've seen from the Pakistani government. We want more. We expect more. We've made it very clear that if, heaven forbid, an attack like this that we can trace back to Pakistan was to have been successful, there would be very severe consequences."

Observing that Clinton's quotes were not taken in proper context, Holbrook said, "I think that perhaps it was not fully understood by some people who didn't see the full text or didn't appreciate what she was saying. And of course, it was an edited interview."

Meanwhile, a top Pentagon General strongly denied that he had ever told General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani that Pakistan was not being tough with the terrorists.

"Yes, there was an unfortunate news story that came out that was completely inaccurate that represented that I had expressed to General Kayani the US' policy on doing more, and that just didn't happen. It was a one-on-one meeting and it did not occur. And I'd made it clear to General Kayani that I did not represent it that way," General Stanley McChrystal, US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's Commander in Afghanistan, told reporters at White House.

"I think that it is important that we understand that the insurgency faced by Pakistan, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, is an essential threat. I mean, it's a significant threat to their country. And it's complimentary to what Afghanistan faces. So it puts the two nations with a common problem," he said.

"The Afghan Taliban and TTP are distinct, but they are not completely unrelated, and therefore it's important we sync our two campaigns together. And that's why I spend a lot of time with General Kayani, who's a good partner working that," McChrystal said.

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