Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday U.S.-Pakistan counterterrorism cooperation "helped lead" to the discovery of Osama bin Laden’s hideout near Islamabad. She is non-committal about whether the $25 million U.S. reward for finding bin Laden will be paid.
Obama administration officials are not saying if Pakistani authorities were aware in advance of the U.S. raid near Islamabad Sunday that killed bin Laden, but Clinton said Pakistani cooperation helped locate the al-Qaida leader’s hiding place.
The circumstances of bin Laden’s death have raised questions about whether Pakistani military and intelligence officials knew about bin Laden’s whereabouts, and whether they had shared information with the United States.
Asked about the issue at a press event here with Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, Clinton provided no details but stressed the value of Pakistani anti-terrorism support.
"Our counter-terrorism cooperation over a number of years now, with Pakistan, has contributed greatly to our efforts to dismantle al-Qaida," said Clinton. "And in fact, cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound in which we was hiding. Going forward, we are absolutely committed to continuing that cooperation."
The State Department had offered a $25 million reward for information leading to bin Laden’s apprehension.
Clinton said while bin Laden’s name has been removed from the "active list" of the department’s "Rewards for Justice" program, she could not comment on whether anyone has been nominated for the reward for bin Laden or any other wanted person.
Rudd, whose country lost nearly 100 citizens in bombings by al-Qaida-affiliated terrorists in the Indonesian resort of Bali in 2002, hailed the U.S. special forces operation that killed bin Laden.
He said the death would not hasten the end of his country’s combat role in Afghanistan, where Australia is the largest non-NATO troop contributor.
"In terms of our mission in Afghanistan, the answer is without reservation 'no,' said Rudd. "That is, we will stay the course in Afghanistan until our mission is complete."
Earlier in a statement on the death of bin Laden, Clinton reiterated the U.S. call on the Taliban to break with al-Qaida, end its insurgency, and join in a political process with the Kabul government.
"Our message to the Taliban remains the same, but today it may have greater resonance. You cannot wait us out. You cannot defeat us. But you can make the choice to abandon al-Qaida and participate in a peaceful political process."
Clinton said there is no better rebuke to al-Qaida and its "heinous" ideology than the protest movements across the Middle East by democracy activists she said reject "extremist narratives" and are seeking progress based on universal rights.