On Tuesday, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani began a four-day visit to China, an old, trusted ally of Pakistan with superpower aspirations of its own.
A continued downward spiral in U.S.-Pakistan ties, Kerry said, “is a very dangerous road for everybody — dangerous for Pakistan, dangerous for our interests, dangerous for the people of this country and for the region.”
In recent days, Pakistani civilian and military officials have coalesced around anger about the bin Laden raid, which they characterize as a violation of sovereignty. On Friday, Parliament passed a resolution condemning the operation, calling for an end to CIA drone strikes and threatening to cut off NATO supply routes through Pakistan.
Kerry said he emphasized to Pakistani leaders that the secrecy surrounding the Abbottabad operation was not a reflection of U.S. distrust. Having narrowly failed to reach bin Laden in Afghanistan in 2001, the United States was determined this time to avoid leaks at all costs, Kerry said, and few senior U.S. officials were told in advance about the raid.
“My goal in coming here was not to apologize for what I consider to be a triumph against terrorism,” Kerry said of the raid on bin Laden’s compound. He added: “Faced with a second chance to capture Osama bin Laden, no American president could conceivably have afforded to take even the slightest chance that he might again slip through our hands.”
The joint statement said Kerry had also assured Pakistan that the United States has “no designs” on its nuclear arsenal. It did not mention drone strikes, which Pakistan tacitly allows but publicly protests. One such strike in the border area of North Waziristan killed seven people Monday, according to the Associated Press.
The militant threat in Pakistan was highlighted earlier in the day in the southern port of Karachi, where gunmen on a motorbike fatally shot a Saudi diplomat as he was driving. A senior police official in Karachi said investigators were trying to determine whether militants related to al-Qaeda, which opposes the Saudi regime, had carried out the attack to avenge the killing of the Saudi-born bin Laden.
But the official said the assassination of the diplomat, which came two days after hand grenades were lobbed at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Karachi, might also have been carried out by Shiites angry that the kingdom had sent troops to Bahrain to suppress Shiite protests there.
Special correspondent Shaiq Hussain contributed to this report.