US withholds $800 mln in aid to Pakistan -WHouse

WASHINGTON,  (Reuters) – The United States is  withholding some $800 million in military assistance to  Pakistan in a show of displeasure over its cutback on U.S.  trainers, limits on visas for U.S. personnel and other  bilateral irritants, the Obama administration said yesterday.

Pakistani authorities have “taken some steps that have  given us reason to pause on some of the aid which we’re giving  to the military,” White House Chief of Staff William Daley said  on ABC television’s “This Week with Christiane Amanpour.”

As a result, “We’ll hold back some of the money that the  American taxpayers have committed to give,” he said, adding  this amounted to about $800 million, or more than a third of  the $2 billion given to Pakistan for security assistance.

The U.S. Defense Department said Pakistan’s army had  requested a “significant cutback” of U.S. military trainers and  limited the ability of U.S. personnel to obtain visas.

“While the Pakistani military leadership tells us this is a  temporary step, the reduced presence of our trainers and other  personnel means we can’t deliver the assistance that requires  training and support to be effective,” the department said in a  written response to questions.

Bilateral ties have been under mounting strain as the  United States has pushed one of its key counterterrorism  partners to boost efforts against Taliban and other militants  fighting western forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

Pakistan also is smarting from the surprise U.S. raid that  killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on May 2 in a Pakistani  garrison town, as well as U.S. drone attacks and night raids  that have killed civilians as well as militants.

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