Pakistan is rejecting allegations by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that it is allowing militants to use its territory to stage attacks on American forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

Saturday's statement by the Pakistani foreign ministry says Panetta's remarks this week in Kabul were "misplaced and unhelpful in bringing about peace and stability in the region."

Relations between Islamabad and Washington have been extremely strained over a host of issues recently, including Pakistan's closing the border to NATO trucks in response to the killing of 24 Pakistani troops by NATO forces.

Panetta said the U.S. was `running out of patience' with Pakistan.

His remarks were the most clear sign yet of U.S. frustration with Islamabad.