WASHINGTON, April 13: The United States has said that it has sent its military trainers to Pakistan on Islamabad’s invitation and would like them to continue their job. At a regular briefing at the State Department, deputy spokesman Mark C. Toner said the trainers had gone to Pakistan to support security system programmes and the US wanted to keep that programme alive. “The contingent --- and I believe it’s only about 300 individuals --- they’re there to help train Pakistani military,” said Mr Toner when asked to comment on media reports that Pakistan had asked the US to withdraw the trainers.

“They’re there at the invitation of the government of Pakistan to support security systems programmes … we want to work closely, we want to keep that programme alive, we think it’s important.”

Mr Toner said the presence of US military trainers was linked to “the amount and type of training and equipping required to meet the Pakistani government’s requests and requirements”.

The US official, however, acknowledged that the US and Pakistan had been having conversations “about these kind of requirements and also the force levels that are associated with them, but no decisions have been made”.

Mr Toner rejected the suggestion that recent tensions between the two allies had undermined their intelligence cooperation.

“We’ve got a shared commitment to strengthening our bilateral relationship,” he said, but admitted that “we’ve been through a difficult period”.

“US officials have acknowledged that, including our ambassador there, Cameron Munter. And we’re working to get the relationship back on track.” The United States, he said, was looking to renew the relationship and “getting past the difficulty that the Raymond Davis case caused.”

Mr Toner noted that despite the media’s focus on the counter-terrorism cooperation, the US-Pakistan relationship was not one-dimensional.

“We’ve got assistance like the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act that’s providing $1.5 billion and focusing on infrastructure building, institution building, the kinds of long-term actions that are going to help build a stronger Pakistan in the future.”

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