KABUL, June 7: Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said on Thursday the United States was reaching the limits of its patience with Pakistan because of the safe havens the country offered to insurgents in neighbouring Afghanistan.
It was some of the strongest language used by a US official to describe the strained ties between Washington and Islamabad.
Panetta was speaking in the Afghan capital, where he arrived for talks with military leaders amid rising violence in the war against the Taliban and a spate of deadly incidents, including a NATO air strike said to have killed 18 villagers.
“It is difficult to achieve peace in Afghanistan as long as there is safe haven for terrorists in Pakistan,” Panetta, who arrived in Kabul a day after a deadly insurgent bombing, told reporters.
“It is very important for Pakistan to take steps. It is an increasing concern, the issue of safe haven, and we are reaching the limits of our patience.”
Pakistan’s cooperation is considered critical to US efforts to stabilise Afghanistan before most foreign combat troops leave at the end of 2014.