Clinton’s brief visit — she arrived just after breakfast and was headed home by early afternoon — was part of the Obama administration’s efforts in recent weeks to leverage bin Laden’s killing during a secret raid by U.S. commandos into closer ties with Pakistan, rather than risk it finally severing the always-fragile partnership.
It was far from the first time the United States has announced an attempted reset. But administration officials traveling with Clinton said that the seriousness of the current crisis had forced both sides to confront the possible consequences of an irreconcilable breach and that the talks were marked by a new level of frankness.
As the administration continues its campaign against al-Qaeda, one U.S. official said there was discussion Friday about “specific operations to achieve specific objectives where the United States and Pakistan are together.” The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss counterterrorism matters.
Another official said the meetings “set the framework for more concrete steps in the coming days. . . . There are a series of fairly specific things we can do jointly.”
For its part, Pakistan said the two countries had agreed to “work together in any future actions against high value targets in Pakistan,” according to a statement issued by the office of President Asif Ali Zardari.
Clinton, who was traveling in Europe earlier this week, decided Tuesday to make the trip only after Pakistan acceded to a list of demands that included allowing CIA access to bin Laden’s residential compound in the city of Abbottabad.
Joined here by Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Clinton said she expected more “decisive steps” from Pakistan “in the days ahead.”
The United States, Clinton said, has been “clear and consistent in our expectations for this relationship,” including the removal of insurgent safe havens that “continue to operate . . . here in Pakistan.”
“In the past decade,” Clinton said, “many of the most violent leaders have been living in Pakistan,” even as no nation “has sacrificed more lives than Pakistan” in the fight against extremism. She made special note of recent extremist bombings that have taken dozens of Pakistani lives, including the attack this week on a Pakistani naval air base.
Clinton called on Pakistan to support nascent reconciliation talks with the Afghan Taliban launched several months ago by the United States and Afghanistan. The goal, she said, is “to split the Taliban from al-Qaeda,” a possibility the administration believes has become more likely with bin Laden’s demise, and Pakistan “has a responsibility to help us.”