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Sen. Kerry: Relations with Pakistan tense

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Sen. John Kerry said yesterday that the U.S. relationship with Pakistan was at a "critical moment" because of the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and that there were growing calls to cut aid to the country.

Kerry, chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that although Pakistan had in the past sacrificed much in the battle against al-Qaida and its own domestic Islamic insurgency, the killing of bin Laden by U.S. Navy SEALs near the capital had raised questions.

Pakistan was not told about the raid in the city of Abbottabad until afterward. Some in the United States were critical of Pakistan's security forces for having failed to detect the terror leader -- or worse, giving him protection.

"This is not a moment for anything except very sober, serious discussion with an understanding that there is a lot at stake; there is no other way to put it," Kerry said in the Afghan capital.

He traveled to Pakistan later in the day for meetings with government and military officials, arriving in Islamabad in the late evening. Kerry spent two days in Afghanistan meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other officials.

Kerry said "this is a critical moment in terms of the relationship with Pakistan" and said it was "fair to say" that some of his colleagues in the House and Senate have deep reservations about whether Pakistan is committed to the same goals.

He said there were calls for a "shift in the aid program," and that "unless there is an improvement in the current situation, I think it will be very difficult to argue to the American people that while some programs are being cut, there ought to be additional funds allocated to the current confused situation."

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