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Mattis: Pentagon still working with Pakistan on military supply lines to Afghanistan

Mattis: Pentagon still working with Pakistan on military supply lines to Afghanistan
© Greg Nash

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - GOP angst in Georgia; confirmation fight looms Biden under pressure to remove Trump transgender military ban quickly Progressive House Democrats urge Biden against Defense chief with contractor ties MORE said Thursday that the United States is still working with Pakistan to coordinate military supply routes needed for the fight in Afghanistan, even though the Trump administration a day prior suspended security assistance to the country.

“As you saw in the statement, there were very specific words that said we’re still working with Pakistan, and we would restore the aid if we see decisive movements against the terrorists who are as much of a threat against Pakistan as they are against us,” Mattis told reporters in an impromptu gaggle at the Pentagon.

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The former Marine Corps general also said that U.S. Central Command head Gen. Joseph Votel spoke Wednesday with Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa.

The United States uses military supply lines that run food and equipment from Pakistan to Afghanistan.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Wednesday that the U.S. would freeze military equipment deliveries and transfers of security-related funds to Pakistan, as well as reimbursements to the government for money spent on counterterrorism operations, due to its failure to combat terrorist networks within its borders. The cuts are estimated to be worth up to $2 billion.

“Until the Pakistani government takes decisive action against groups, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, we consider them to be destabilizing the region and also targeting personnel,” she said.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Trump threatens to veto defense bill over tech liability shield Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump MORE on Monday criticized U.S. assistance to Pakistan, saying that Washington gives the country “billions of dollars” and gets “nothing” in return.

Pakistan on Friday pushed back on the U.S. claims and appeared to threaten that the cuts could impact U.S. operations in the country.

“Impact of ... U.S. decision on pursuit of common objectives is also likely to emerge more clearly in due course of time,” according to Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

But Mattis said that the Pentagon will continue to coordinate such logistics and added that he has “no indication” and is “not concerned” that Pakistan will close its airspace or supply lines.

Mattis also said the Pentagon will release its new national defense strategy on Friday, Jan. 19. The document marks the direction and priorities for the Pentagon.

Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan teased the strategy late last month when he told reporters it would not mention climate change — a break with former President Obama's administration, which last year called climate change a national security threat.