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23 May 2024

Pakistan blocks US envoy visit: official


Pakistan refused a visit by a US envoy handling reconciliation in neighboring Afghanistan amid rock-bottom relations between the war partners, US officials said Wednesday.

Marc Grossman, the special representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan, was visiting Abu Dhabi as part of a nearly two-week trip that includes stops in Afghanistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, an aide said.

But Pakistan said it did not want Grossman to visit until Islamabad completes a review of relations with the United States, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

"We received word that the Pakistanis felt it would be best to wait until this parliamentary review is concluded," Toner said Tuesday.

Pakistan has launched a review of its relations with Washington amid a drastic deterioration of ties, particularly after US forces discovered and killed Osama bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad on May 2.

Pakistan has demanded an apology and curbed cooperation after a NATO air strike near the Afghan border on November 26 killed 24 Pakistani troops. President Barack Obama has voiced regret but stopped short of a full apology.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week that Grossman would seek to advance reconciliation in Afghanistan and talk to President Hamid Karzai about a resumption of preliminary talks with the Taliban.

The United States wants to withdraw most forces from Afghanistan in 2014, ending more than a decade of war. But many US officials have deep concerns about the role of Pakistan, believing its intelligence services maintain ties with Islamic extremists inside Afghanistan.