US could reinstate security assistance if Pakistan takes 'decisive' steps

US could reinstate security assistance if Pakistan takes 'decisive' steps
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The State Department’s second in command said Tuesday that the United States could restore security assistance to Pakistan if the nation takes “decisive and sustained” actions against terrorist groups in the country.

“We may consider lifting the suspension when we see decisive and sustained actions to address our concerns, including targeting all terrorist groups operating within its territory, without distinction,” Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said in prepared remarks before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Pentagon last month said it was suspending at least $900 million in security assistance for Pakistan, including military equipment deliveries, transfers of security-related funds and reimbursements for counterterrorism operations.

The hold was due to Pakistan's alleged failure to combat terrorist networks within its borders, including the Afghan Taliban and its Haqqani network. The latter claimed responsibility for a bombing at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul last month.

The suspended aid can only be released if the department certifies the Pakistani government has made significant progress against the terrorist groups, Pentagon officials said at the time.

But Sullivan told lawmakers that though the State Department has “had a number of discussions with our Pakistani partners on expectations for change,” they have not yet seen evidence that Islamabad has sufficiently put pressure on the militants.  

“There certainly hasn’t been any change that we would consider final and irrevocable,” Sullivan said, responding to a question from Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinCan new US Strategy on Women, Peace & Security give women a real seat at the table? Ask Afghan women Maryland lawmakers slam 'despicable' Trump remark about journalists on newsroom shooting anniversary Democrats leery of Sanders plan to cancel student loan debt MORE (D-Md.). 

“Our suspension of security assistance continues until we see more evidence that they are in fact taking action. There hasn’t been a sufficient amount of action yet.”

President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Camerota clashes with Trump's immigration head over president's tweet LA Times editorial board labels Trump 'Bigot-in-Chief' Trump complains of 'fake polls' after surveys show him trailing multiple Democratic candidates MORE harshly criticized Pakistan in his first tweet of 2018, accusing the country of providing the U.S. with “nothing but lies & deceit.” 

The U.S. has provided more than $33 billion in assistance to Pakistan since 2002.

Pakistan, meanwhile, rejects accusations that it fails to address terrorists that migrate over its western border with Afghanistan.