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Old 07-10-2011, 11:28 AM  
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U.S. halting millions in aid to Pakistan

By the CNN Wire Staff

July 10, 2011 1:10 p.m. EDT

White House Chief of Staff William Daley appears on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday.

NEW: The relationship with Pakistan is "very complicated," the White House chief of staff said
NEW: The move follows a growing rift since Osama bin Laden's killing
NEW: The top U.S. military officer last week said the Pakistani government "sanctioned" a journalist's killing
NEW: Pakistani operations against militants will continue, the Pakistani military spokesman says

Washington (CNN) -- The United States is holding back $800 million in aid to Pakistan, President Barack Obama's chief of staff said Sunday.

Appearing on ABC's "This Week," White House Chief of Staff William Daley confirmed a report in the New York Times that the aid was being withheld.

While Pakistan has "been an important ally in the fight on terrorism," Daley said, "now they've taken some steps that have given us reason to pause on some of the aid which we're giving to the military, and we're trying to work through that."

A spokesman for the Pakistani military told CNN the military was not informed of any such plan.

"Since we haven't received anything in writing," Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said, "we will not comment on this matter."

Tension between the United States and Pakistan has grown since U.S. special forces killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May. He was found in a compound in Abbottabad, a Pakistani military town.

U.S. officials have raised questions about whether the Pakistani military did all it could to find him and whether bin Laden had assistance from anyone within the ranks of Pakistani intelligence. Pakistani officials, meanwhile, have criticized the United States for conducting the secret raid without warning Pakistan.

The rift seemed to deepen last week when the top U.S. military officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm.Mike Mullen, said he believes the Pakistani government "sanctioned" the killing of a prominent Islamabad reporter, Syed Saleem Shahzad, who was murdered in May.

The Pakistani military and Inter-Services Intelligence agency denied any involvement in Shahzad's killing, and Pakistani Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan called Mullen's statement irresponsible.

On the ABC program Sunday, Daley said the U.S. relationship with Pakistan "is very complicated."

"Obviously there's still a lot of pain that the political system in Pakistan is feeling by virtue of the raid that we did to get Osama bin Laden," although the United States has "no regrets," he said. The relationship with Pakistan "is difficult, but it must be made to work over time," he said.

"But until we get through these difficulties, we'll hold back some of the money that the American taxpayers have committed to give."

Responding to whether that figure was "some $800 million," Daley said, "Yep."

The New York Times, citing three unnamed senior U.S. officials, reported that altogether, "about $800 million in military aid and equipment, or over one-third of the more than $2 billion in annual American security assistance to Pakistan, could be affected."

Abbas, the Pakistani military spokesman, told CNN, "We have said in the past that military aid should be redirected to the civilian area where it's needed more."

"As far as the impact is concerned," he added, "we have stated in the past we have conducted operations against militants in the tribal region -- and they have been successful operations -- using our own resources without taking any external support. Those operations in the tribal areas will continue."
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