ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has imposed new travel restrictions on US diplomats living in the country, a source told AFP Sunday, in the latest sign of ties worsening since the killing of Osama bin Laden.
A letter sent to the US embassy in Islamabad increased limitations on when and how diplomats can move outside the capital, the diplomatic source said, without giving further details.
Pakistan is seen as a key ally for the United States in its fight against Islamist militancy, but relations have soured since US troops killed Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May without warning Islamabad of the raid.
Both governments moved to prevent any public outbreak of disagreement after the restrictions were reported in Pakistani newspapers on Sunday.
“We are working with the Pakistani government to resolve the issue,” US embassy spokesman Alberto Rodriguez said.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry said that “no US-specific restrictions have been applied” on diplomatic travel, but added it was “having a constructive engagement with the US Embassy in Islamabad in this regard”.
“There are general guidelines regarding travel of Pakistan-based diplomats, designed only to ensure their safety and security, which have existed for a long time,” it added in a statement.
“Pakistan has been harassing US personnel working in the country for months,” a US official told the ABC news channel, which reported on Saturday that the CIA’s Islamabad station chief had left Pakistan for medical reasons.
President Barack Obama’s administration recently suspended about a third of its $2.7 billion annual defence aid to Pakistan, but assured Islamabad it was committed to a $7.5 billion civilian assistance package approved in 2009.
A British high commission spokesman said the Pakistan government guidelines now being implemented on travel for its diplomatic staff had existed for some time.