US outreach to Pakistan continues despite attacks

AP News
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Posted: Sep 23, 2011 1:44 PM
US outreach to Pakistan continues despite attacks

Obama administration officials said Friday that the U.S. wants to continue working with Pakistan, even as they expanded on assertions that Islamabad's spy agency supported and encouraged attacks by Haqqani network extremists on the American embassy in Afghanistan last week.

And a military official said Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen decided to lay out accusations against Pakistan's ISI after information about the linkage became more available in recent weeks.

"It's been a very busy summer for the Haqqani network and it's gotten worse," said Mullen spokesman Capt. John Kirby. "Their activity has become more brazen, more aggressive, more lethal, and the information has become more available, that these attacks have been supported or even encouraged by the ISI."

Mullen's comments to the Senate Armed Services Committee, during a hearing Thursday, triggered vehement denials from Pakistani leaders. But Kirby said Mullen discussed the problem specifically with Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani late last week.

Pentagon press secretary George Little and Kirby would not comment on whether the U.S. has provided Pakistan any hard evidence about the ISI's support of the Haqqanis.

Kirby said Mullen hasn't spoken to Kayani since Thursday's hearing. He added that the U.S. still wants to pursue a working partnership with the Pakistani military, but it depends in large measure "on their willingness and their ability to disconnect themselves from extremist groups like the Haqqanis."

At the White House, press secretary Jay Carney said the U.S. will continue its outreach to Pakistan. But he added that it is imperative that Pakistan take "strong and immediate action" against the network.

Carney said the administration knows the Haqqani network was responsible for the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Kabul and several other assaults. He reiterated that the United States has an important relationship with Pakistan and said Washington will make its concerns clear.

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Associated Press writer Donna Cassata contributed to this report.