ISLAMABAD – Pakistani and U.S. officials emphasized the need for trust between their countries to counter the Al Qaeda and the Taliban threat, even as Pakistan's foreign minister complained Tuesday about American missile strikes on his nation's soil.
U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke and Adm. Mike Mullen of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff were visiting Pakistan on the heels of President Barack Obama's announcement of plans to reinvigorate the war in Afghanistan by sending more troops to the region and boosting aid to Pakistan to help it stave off Al Qaeda and Taliban-led militancy on its soil.
Pakistani leaders say they are happy about getting billions more in assistance, but Obama's insistence that the money won't come without conditions — no "blank check" — has rankled some here and underscored a trust deficit between the two camps.
"We can only work together if we respect each other and trust each other," Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said during a news conference.
It was a sentiment echoed by Mullen, who said he was committed to improving the nations' relationship to the point where there is a "surplus of trust."
Pakistan's civilian government points to the deaths of hundreds of Pakistani troops in battling insurgents along the Afghan frontier in questioning the line from Washington. But U.S. officials have complained that the country's spy agency still has ties to some militant groups, something Pakistan denies.
"Pakistan is committed in eliminating extremism from the society, for which it needs unconditional support by the international community in the fields of education, health, training and provision of equipment for fighting terrorism," Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said in a statement after meeting the envoys.