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US suspends security assistance with Pakistan over Taliban attacks

The US has said it is suspending security assistance to Pakistan until Islamabad takes action against the Afghan Taliban.

The State Department’s declaration is a sign of the growing frustration in Washington over Pakistan’s perceived lack of co-operation in fighting terror networks.

It is not clear how much money and material is being withheld as a result of the move.

The vagueness of the declaration suggests it is designed to back up the President’s New Year’s Day tweet accusing Pakistan of playing US leaders for “fools”.

Mr Trump said the US had “foolishly” given Pakistan more than $33bn (£24.4bn) in aid over the last 15 years, only to receive “lies and deceit” in return.

He also repeated long-standing allegations that the country provides “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan”.

Pakistan said the message was “completely incomprehensible” and at odds with the recent “trust-building” visits by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defence Secretary James Mattis.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the restrictions covered security assistance above and beyond the $255m (£188m) for Pakistani purchases of US military equipment that the Trump administration held up back in August.

Ms Nauert made clear that this money was still blocked.

The President used a teleprompter during the speech
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Mr Trump unveiled a new strategy in August, aimed at ending the stalemate in Afghanistan

The target of this new action is payments of so-called Coalition Support Funds that the US pays to Pakistan to reimburse it for its counter-terrorism operations.

This money is usually paid later in the year and already needed to be certified before being sent to Pakistan, meaning the effect of Thursday’s announcement was unclear.

Mr Trump unveiled a new strategy in August, aimed at ending the stalemate in the war in Afghanistan, which has been raging for 17 years.

Part of the President’s plan included a demand for Pakistan to take action against militant safe havens on its soil.

Ms Nauert said that despite high-level talks between Washington and Pakistan’s government, “the Taliban and Haqqani network continue to find sanctuary inside Pakistan as they plot to destabilise Afghanistan and attack US and allied personnel”.

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