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Tuesday / January 15.

Pakistan summons US ambassador over Trump tweet

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has summoned the US ambassador to protest against a tweet by President Donald Trump that accused Islamabad of providing “safe haven to terrorists” and deceiving Washington in the war on terror.
Ambassador David Hale visited the Foreign Office late Monday to discuss the tweet, US Embassy spokesman Richard Snelsire said Tuesday.
This latest diplomatic row broke out when Trump, in his first tweet of the year, said the US had “foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years,” and had not received anything in return “but lies & deceits.”
This elicited a swift response from Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, who said: “Trump’s ‘no more’ does not hold any importance.”
Asif said US financial assistance was reimbursement of expenses that Pakistan incurred in operations against militants, and compensation for logistical facilities made available to coalition forces fighting in Afghanistan.
“We are ready to account for all the financial assistance that Pakistan has received from the US,” he said. “All the monetary assistance was properly audited.”
Asif said Pakistan’s foreign policy is designed to protect the country’s national interests, adding: “We will protect our territorial integrity at all cost.”
Pakistan’s Defense Ministry tweeted: “Pak as anti-terror ally has given free to US: land & air communication, military bases & intelligence cooperation that decimated Al-Qaeda over last 16yrs.”
The ministry added: “They (the Americans) have given us nothing but invective & mistrust. They overlook cross-border safe havens of terrorists who murder Pakistanis.”
Former diplomat Asif Ezidi told Arab News: “Pakistan is a sovereign country, and will formulate its foreign policy to protect its national interest rather than do America’s bidding in the region.”
Ezidi advised Pakistan not to take Trump’s tweet seriously, saying: “We should be humble and calculated in our response to the US, and try to thaw our relations with that country.”
While the media and policymakers in both countries have frequently accused each other of betrayal and duplicity, US officials have publicly lauded Pakistan’s contributions against religious militancy on many occasions.
Trump’s strongly worded tweet constitutes a departure from that policy, and came just a few days after Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman Dr. Mohammad Faisal told Arab News that Islamabad did not want any US financial assistance.
Defense analyst Talat Masood told Arab News that Trump’s tweet is “aggressive and against diplomatic norms.”
But Masood said Pakistan should be careful in its response because “we already have deteriorated relations with our neighbors, including India, and Washington may exploit this to further corner us in the region.”

via AN