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Pakistan Could Lose 'Major Non-NATO Ally Status,' Tillerson Warns

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (file photo)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the United States could consider punishing Pakistan or cutting off its status as a major non-NATO ally if Islamabad doesn't crack down on the Taliban and other extremist groups.

"There's been an erosion in trust because we have witnessed terrorist organizations being given safe haven inside of Pakistan to plan and carry out attacks against U.S. servicemen, U.S. officials, disrupting peace efforts inside of Afghanistan," Tillerson told reporters at the State Department in Washington on August 22.

Tillerson's words reinforced U.S. President Donald Trump's warning issued to Pakistan on August 21 over its alleged support to extremist groups in the region.

Trump also pledged to commit U.S. troops to Afghanistan to fight against the resurgent Taliban without announcing a precise number.

"Pakistan must adopt a different approach, and we are ready to work with them to help them protect themselves against these terrorist organizations.... We are going to be conditioning our support for Pakistan and our relationship with them on them delivering results in this area.

"We have some leverage in terms of aid, their status as a non-NATO alliance partner -- all of that can be put on the table," Tillerson said.

Pakistan is one of 16 countries to currently enjoy "major non-NATO ally" status, which allows close military cooperation.

Relations between the United States and Pakistan have been rocky in recent years amid U.S. counterterrorism operations along the Afghan-Pakistani border and the secret U.S. raid that killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil in 2011.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa, and BBC
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