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Stable U.S.-Pakistan relationship critical to Afghanistan success: Panetta

(Xinhua)

13:10, December 13, 2011

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Monday expressed confidence that the U.S. can mend its strained relationship with Pakistan, because the stable relationship with Islamabad is key to win the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

Panetta said that restoring the strained relationship with Pakistan is critical to the long-term progress in Afghanistan.

"I think it is going to be important, as we are able to move and progress in our efforts in Afghanistan, that we continue to do outreach in Pakistan," he told the U.S. forces press service.

"It is essential to stability in that region that we not only achieve a peaceful resolution with regards to Afghanistan, but that we are able to develop a more stable relationship with Pakistan as well," he said. "If that region is ever going to find peace, it is going to happen not only by achieving stability in Afghanistan, but also by achieving some degree of stability in Pakistan as well."

The U.S. defense chief conceded that the U.S. relationship with Pakistan has been "difficult and complicated," while emphasizing that "it is an important relationship, and it is one we have to continue to work at."

The U.S.-Pakistan relationship was strained after the May 2 U.S. raid inside Pakistan to kill Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden, and further worsened after the NATO air attack on a Pakistan military outpost near its border with Afghanistan on Nov. 26 that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

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