The handover of the helicopter tail, to be made Tuesday, is one result of several high-level meetings Kerry said he held with Pakistani officials to alleviate strains between the two allies. The long-fraught relationship has reached one of its worst points after U.S. commandos killed bin Laden in a Pakistani garrison city.
Pakistan has chafed at not being informed of the raid in advance, while U.S. officials have openly questioned whether Pakistani officials colluded with bin Laden.
Kerry sought Monday to play down those allegations, saying he was in Pakistan to “recalibrate” the relationship, not judge whether Pakistan harbors terrorists. But he said he and Pakistani officials had discussed several points of contention, including Pakistan’s alleged support for Afghan insurgents based on its soil and for Lashkar-i-Taiba, a Pakistani militant organization that has been accused of carrying out attacks in India and Afghanistan.
Kerry, whose name is attached to a major U.S. economic assistance package to Pakistan, said he conveyed to the Pakistanis that they must demonstrate a commitment to fighting Islamist militancy to address the concerns of members of Congress who, after the bin Laden killing, have called for the end to U.S. aid.
“The make-or-break is real,” said Kerry, who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the most senior U.S. envoy to visit Pakistan since bin Laden’s death. “There are members of Congress who aren’t confident that [the relationship] can be patched back together again. That is why actions, not words, are going to be critical to earning their votes.”
Kerry did not specify other steps agreed to during his meetings, although he said commitments were made to increase U.S.-Pakistan intelligence sharing and joint intelligence operations — areas that had come to a near standstill in recent months. A joint U.S.-Pakistan statement issued Monday said the countries would cooperate in operations against “high-value targets” in Pakistan.
In coming days, senior White House officials will visit Pakistan to discuss implementation of what Kerry called the “road map.” Those discussions will determine whether Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will move forward with plans to visit Pakistan this month, said Kerry, although he suggested there is little prospect that the nations would break ties.