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China Denies Seeing Downed US Stealth Helicopter


This photo, taken by a local resident, shows the wreckage of a helicopter next to the wall of the compound where according to officials, Osama bin Laden was shot and killed in a firefight with U.S. forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan, May 2, 2011 (file photo)

This photo, taken by a local resident, shows the wreckage of a helicopter next to the wall of the compound where according to officials, Osama bin Laden was shot and killed in a firefight with U.S. forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan, May 2, 2011 (file photo)

China says it never got a look at a downed U.S. helicopter used in the raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

A statement posted on the Chinese Ministry of Defense website Tuesday called allegations that Pakistan had given China access to the wreckage totally unfounded and extremely absurd.

The New York Times and Financial Times newspapers quoted unnamed U.S. officials who said Pakistan's intelligence service is believed to have permitted Chinese engineers to photograph and even walk away with samples of the U.S. helicopter, which was equipped with special technology designed to allow the aircraft to elude radar.

China's denial comes one day after a similar denial from Pakistan.

Pakistani military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told VOA on Monday that neither China nor any other third party had access to the wreckage. Abbas said the wreckage was kept in a secure location under armed guard while in Pakistan's possession. The military spokesman said the media reports were part of a slander campaign against Pakistan.

U.S. forces involved in the May 2 raid attempted to destroy the helicopter after it crashed into a wall of the al-Qaida leader's compound in Abbottabad, but the tail section remained largely intact.

The damaged remains of the aircraft were later brought back to the United States.

The New York Times reported that U.S. officials directly confronted Pakistani officials about whether foreign governments had been given access to the wreckage and Pakistan denied the accusations.

Relations between the United States and Pakistan have been at a low point since the covert operation by U.S. Special Forces that killed bin Laden. Pakistan sharply criticized the U.S. raid as a violation of its sovereignty.

Tensions between the two countries were already high after a CIA contractor killed two Pakistanis in January. Pakistan has also repeatedly protested suspected U.S. drone strikes targeting militants in the country's northwest tribal region.

The U.S. recently suspended about one-third of its $2.7 billion annual defense aid to Pakistan in response to Pakistan's decision to expel American military trainers and put limits on visas for U.S. personnel.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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