Thu, Jan 19, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Pakistan forbids the visit of US envoy Grossman: official

Reuters, ISLAMABAD

Pakistan has rejected US special envoy Marc Grossman’s request to visit the country, a senior official said yesterday, highlighting the increased tensions between the uneasy allies.

He did not elaborate on the reasons.

“Ambassador Grossman asked to visit Pakistan, but we conveyed to him that it was not possible at the moment,” said a senior government official, who declined to be named.

Relations between Islamabad and Washington are at the lowest point in years, dragged down by a NATO cross-border air attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on Nov. 26.

The growing tension threatens to set back peace efforts in neighboring Afghanistan, where the US is gradually withdrawing troops after a decade of war.

Pakistan’s cooperation is regarded as crucial, because of its long history of association with militant groups, to efforts to persuade the Taliban to join negotiations.

Grossman, US Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, is due to visit Afghanistan and Qatar this week, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Jan. 11.

Pakistan said early last month it had decided to review cooperation with the US and NATO. The review is currently before parliament with no firm timeline on when recommendations will be presented to the government.

US Department of State spokesman Mark Toner said on Tuesday that Pakistan had decided the review should be completed before Grossman’s next visit.

Ties between Washington and Islamabad were severely hurt in January last year by the killing of two Pakistanis by a CIA contractor. The US further infuriated Pakistan’s military in May with a special forces raid that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

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