The top U.S. military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen tried to ease
tensions with Pakistan Friday, saying that now, more than ever, is the
time for calm and cooperation. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff made the remarks one day after U.S. and Pakistani troops
exchanged fire along the border with Afghanistan. VOA correspondent
Meredith Buel reports from Washington.
Mullen painted a bleak picture of the current situation in Pakistan,
saying the South Asian nation's battle against extremists continues to
"Things are very tense and very dangerous in
Pakistan," he said. "I would not expect anything else. They face a
growing and increasingly lethal insurgency on the border and inside
their country, threatening the security of their newly elected
government. They are dealing with extremist safe havens, many of which
are sheltered by local tribesmen."
Mullen's remarks followed an
exchange of fire between Pakistani and U.S. troops on the Afghan border
after Pakistani security forces shot at two U.S. helicopters.
there were no injuries, the five-minute clash heightened tensions at a
time the United States is stepping up military operations in a region
known as a haven for Taliban and al-Qaida militants.
Mullen told reporters at the Pentagon despite the difficult
circumstances along the Afghan border, the United States and Pakistan
need to continue their cooperative effort to fight the insurgents.
does not mean the sky is falling and it does not mean we should every
overreact to the hair-trigger tension we are all feeling. Now, more
than ever, is the time for teamwork and for calm," he said.
Mullen says senior Pakistani military leaders have reassured him their troops have no intent or plan to fire on U.S. soldiers.
admiral says he has no reason to believe the relationship between the
two countries has changed as the result of the incident along the
border and believes Islamabad is committed to cooperating with the U.S.
"I just am hard pressed to see a set of circumstances
where there would be any kind of sustained fight between two allies.
That does not mean there would not be accidents. I am not going to be
totally surprised in the future if it continues to happen. We are
working, doing everything we possibly can, to make sure it does not,"
said Admiral Mullen.
Admiral Mullen praised Pakistan for its
current military operation along the border in the Bajaur tribal
region, saying there has been a recent reduction in the number of
militants crossing from Pakistan into Afghanistan.