US to release $1.6bn of aid to Pakistan

Washington quietly resumes military and economic aid to ally, reversing decision made at turn of the decade.

    US to release $1.6bn of aid to Pakistan
    Aid was suspended when relations soured after the killing of Bin Laden EPA]

    The US has quietly decided to resume military and economic aid to Pakistan, with plans to send more than $1.6bn within the next few months.

    The assistance was suspended when relations soured after the covert raid that killed Osama bin Laden and deadly US air strikes against Pakistani soldiers.

    The resumption comes days before Pakistan's new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, travels to Washington for White House talks this week.

    Officials and congressional aides say ties have improved enough to allow the money to flow again. However, neither side has promoted the revamped aid relationship.

    The US Congress has cleared most of the money, which should start moving early next year, officials and congressional aides said.

    "Funding was notified to Congress following a rigorous planning process over multiple months, to ensure it was in line with both US and Pakistani interests, and would deliver important results for both countries," Marie Harf, deputy spokesman for the State Department, said on Saturday.

    Over three weeks in July and August, the State Department and the US Agency for International Development informed Congress that it planned to restart a wide range of assistance, mostly dedicated to helping Pakistan fight terrorism.

    The US sees that effort as essential as it withdraws troops from neighbouring Afghanistan next year and tries to leave a stable government behind.

    Other funds focus on a range of items, including help for Pakistani law enforcement and a multibillion-dollar dam in disputed territory.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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