February 6, 2018 / 3:45 PM / 6 months ago

U.S. could lift aid suspension if Pakistan takes steps: State Department

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States could consider ending a suspension of security assistance to Pakistan, if Islamabad takes “decisive and sustained” actions against militant groups in the country, the State Department’s No. 2 official said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO - U.S Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan speaks during the OAS 47th General Assembly in Cancun, Mexico June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

“We may consider lifting the suspension when we see decisive and sustained actions to address our concerns, including targeting all terrorist groups operating within its territory, without distinction,” Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Sullivan, however, told the committee the Trump administration has so far seen no evidence that Pakistan has met its demands for a crackdown on extremist groups operating on Pakistani territory.

The U.S. government last month said it was suspending at least $900 million in security assistance to Pakistan until it takes action against the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network militant groups.

Pakistan has long rejected accusations that it fails to tackle militants battling the government in neighboring Afghanistan and U.S.-led foreign forces there, from sanctuaries on its side of the border.

After Washington announced the aid suspension, Pakistan criticized what it called “shifting goalposts” and said the move was counter-productive.

Editing by Franklin Paul and David Gregorio

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