Panetta arrives in Pakistan unannounced

CIA director Leon Panetta arrived here Friday on an unannounced visit that marked his first trip to Pakistan since al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in a Navy SEAL raid more than a month ago, U.S. and Pakistani officials said.

Panetta’s visit comes as the administration seeks to keep its badly bruised relations with Pakistan from deteriorating any further.

Two weeks ago, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a visit to Islamabad that Washington expected to see “decisive steps” from Pakistan “in the days ahead.”

But administration officials remain unhappy with Pakistan’s counterterrorism response following the bin Laden raid in early May in a northern Pakistani city dominated by military installations. The United States has been pushing Pakistan to take more initiative in going after militant safe havens, to little apparent effect.

In recent weeks, Pakistan has seemed only to further distance itself from its alliance with the United States, forcing out most of the 135 U.S. troops who had been here training Pakistani forces.

On Thursday, Pakistani army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani issued a pointed statement that called for U.S. military aid to Pakistan to be converted into economic assistance, demanded an end to U.S. drone strikes in the country’s tribal areas and insisted Pakistan would not be pressured into conducting military operations.

Panetta, who has been nominated to be the next U.S. defense secretary, left for Pakistan soon after confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill concluded on Thursday. A Pakistani intelligence official confirmed his presence Friday night but said he did not know the purpose of Panetta’s visit.

DeYoung reported from Washington.

Griff Witte is The Post’s London bureau chief. He previously served as the paper’s deputy foreign editor and as the bureau chief in Kabul, Islamabad and Jerusalem.
Karen DeYoung is associate editor and senior national security correspondent for the Washington Post.
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