Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates enters for a media availability at the Pentagon Wednesday, May 18, 2011 in Washington. -AP Photo

WASHINGTON: Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday that continued American aid to Pakistan is of “significant” US interest, and that he saw “no evidence” Islamabad knew the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden before a US raid.

Appearing before lawmakers, Gates said he could “understand Congress'frustration” with Pakistan over the war against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban but cautioned against cutting off assistance.

“I think we have to proceed with some caution,” Gates said. “We do have significant interest in Pakistan. My own view is we need to continue the assistance that we have provided that benefits the Pakistani people.”

As to whether Pakistani authorities knew the hiding place of bin Laden before the US raid in which he was killed this month, Gates said, “I've seen no evidence at all” to support that notion and that “I've seen some evidence on the contrary.”

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