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US plays down US-Pakistan rift

October 2, 2010

TUCSON, Ariz. — The U.S. and Pakistan can work through a rift that has led to the closing of a key supply route for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Friday.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said he hasn’t seen any impact yet from the closure but the military has done the analysis to understand the possible effect. He said the problem is one of trust.

“It speaks to the relationship and the criticality of the relationship,” Mullen said. “We left them in a dark hole … from about 1990 until 2002, and they don’t trust us and we’re trying to rebuild that trust.”

The Pakistani action to close the most important NATO supply into Afghanistan on Thursday came after a NATO helicopter attack that killed three Pakistani soldiers.

Mullen said during a visit to Tucson on Friday that the closure hasn’t had any impact yet, but the military knows what problems a long-term closure might cause.

“We’re working it with them and … I believe we’ll figure a way to work our way through this,” he said.

Pakistan is trying to deal with massive flooding that devastated huge swaths of the nation, an economy that is not very healthy, and terrorists within their borders, all at the same time, Mullen said.

“So it’s a country that has enormous challenges,” Mullen said.

At the same time, Pakistan is a key partner if the U.S. is to win its battle in Afghanistan.

“Because they are critical, clearly very much involved in getting at the terrorists who live in their country, and that epicenter of terrorism on the border is something we’re all very focused on,” Mullen said. Joint Chiefs head says Pakistan rift can be fixed By BOB CHRISTIE (AP)

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