| GEO Pakistan|
| US says nothing to do with Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline|
| Updated at: 1849 PST, Saturday, June 19, 2010|
ISLAMABAD: US special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke Saturday said Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project is Pakistan’s internal matter which has nothing to do with the US.
“Extending support to Pakistan in energy sector is the top priority of the US,” Holbrooke told a joint news conference with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
He said Al Qaeda's network had been severely degraded by joint U.S.-Pakistani efforts.
A few hours before Richard Holbrooke spoke, a U.S. drone killed 12 militants in Pakistan's North Waziristan region on the Afghan border which Washington says is used by the Afghan Taliban to attack U.S.-led NATO troops in Afghanistan.
"The al Qaeda network has been severely degraded in recent years in efforts that both our countries work on," he said.
Asked whom he would hold responsible if al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and the Afghan Taliban chief, Mullah Mohammad Omar, were hiding somewhere along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Holbrooke demurred.
"Many of their associates have been apprehended or killed. Even those two people ... are still at large but they are under intense pressure," he said.
Holbrooke praised Pakistan's sacrifices in the fight against militants on its soil and said he hoped more would be achieved.
"In regard to the war itself, Pakistan has made progress, but it doesn't mean that we've reached the end of the road. This is a tough, long struggle and much more needs to be done," he said.
Pakistani action against militants on the border is seen as important for bringing stability to Afghanistan, where U.S. forces are leading a major NATO offensive against the Taliban.
Pakistan, fighting its own home-grown Taliban, is under growing U.S. pressure to crack down harder on Afghan Taliban using Pakistani sanctuaries to attack NATO forces in Afghanistan.
U.S. officials said this week the United States had given Pakistan evidence about the growing threat and reach of a militant faction, the Haqqani network, which Washington suspects has ties to Pakistani intelligence.
Although denying it supports its old Afghan Taliban allies, Washington's nuclear-armed ally has long turned a blind eye to their members and support networks in the belief the Taliban represent the only leverage it has over Afghanistan.
Holbrooke announced $11.1 million in humanitarian aid for Pakistanis suffering from the effects of the conflict with homegrown militants in the northwest of the country.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi on the occasion said the ongoing Pak-US strategic dialogue will be completed by July 9.
He said seven rounds of dialogue have been undertaken while US secretary of state Hillary Clinton will soon visit Pakistan to kick off the second phase of Pak-US strategic dialogue.