Marine General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Monday that he was committed to the US-Pakistan relationship, which has been strained after Washington’s many attempts to pile up pressure on Islamabad to step up its efforts against militant groups.
"Do we agree on everything right now? No we don't. But are we committed to a more effective relationship with Pakistan? We are. And I'm not giving up on that," said Dunford.
Trump has threatened to cut off foreign aid to Pakistan, accusing Islamabad of harboring violent extremists.
In his first tweet of 2018, the Republican president took a jab at his predecessors, saying Washington had "foolishly given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years."
"And they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools," wrote the US president on Monday. "They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!"
The allegation prompted outcry in Pakistan, with the military saying in a statement that its army chief told US General Joseph Votel, head of the US military's Central Command, that Islamabad "felt betrayed" by Trump’s remarks.
Pakistan also summoned the US ambassador and lodged a strongly-worded protest, asking for Washington’s clarification.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has said that his government is preparing a response that “will let the world know the truth.”
In his careful remarks, Dunford made clear that Votel was in charge of the military-to-military discussions and he would only contribute to that dialogue along with US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis would also.
"I'm not going to talk about the relationship in public because I'm committed to try to improve the relationship and I do believe that the military-to-military dialogue led by General Votel, with occasional reinforcement from Secretary Mattis, myself and others, is the right approach," Dunford said.