ISLAMABAD — The U.S. and Pakistan agreed Monday to work together in any future actions against “high value targets” in Pakistan, even as U.S. Sen. John Kerry defended Washington’s decision not to tell Islamabad in advance about the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
The pledge, which was made in a joint statement, could help mollify Pakistani officials and citizens, who were enraged that one of the country’s most important allies would conduct a unilateral operation on its soil. But details of the promised cooperation were unclear.
Kerry said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will soon announce plans to visit Pakistan — a sign of confidence in the relationship — and announced that he and Pakistani leaders have agreed to a “series of steps” to improve relations. But he did not specify what those steps were.
Kerry is the most high-profile American emissary to visit Pakistan since the May 2 raid in the northwest garrison city of Abbottabad, Pakistan, which killed the al-Qaida chief and four others. His comments during the visit mixed defiance with promises to work to rebuild the relationship between the two countries.
“My goal in coming here is not to apologize for what I consider to be a triumph against terrorism of unprecedented consequence,” said Kerry. “My goal in coming here has been to talk about how we manage this important relationship.”
Kerry, who chairs the U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, said he understood why Pakistanis were upset at the American raid, but emphasized “the extraordinary circumstances behind the mission against bin Laden.”
“When I spoke with the leaders of Pakistan last night and today, I explained that the extreme secrecy surrounding every aspect of the raid in Abbottabad was essential to protecting the lives of the professionals who were involved and ensuring they succeeded in capturing or killing the man responsible for so much death in so many places,” said Kerry.
But he also said that bin Laden and other foreign fighters who followed him to Pakistan from Afghanistan were the ones “who truly violated Pakistan’s sovereignty.”
“They inspired and conspired with the extremists responsible for the deaths of 35,000 Pakistani citizens and the deaths of more than 5,000 Pakistani soldiers,” said Kerry.
He said he was pleased the Pakistani government has committed “to explore how increased cooperation on joint operations and intelligence sharing can maximize our efforts ... to defeat the enemies we face.”
Kerry also announced that Pakistan had agreed to return the tail of a stealth U.S. helicopter that American commandos had to destroy during the bin Laden raid because it malfunctioned.