WASHINGTON: The United States played down Monday the impact of Pakistan's political crisis, saying it was focusing instead on its strategic ties with its close ally.
"We're watching this closely, but meanwhile we're focused on our long-term partnership with Pakistan," US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters.
"We'll continue to work with the Pakistani government. We're building a strategic relationship with Pakistan," Crowley said when asked if he feared the crisis was a distraction in the fight against extremism.
"By every indication, the government is taking steps to deal with this political situation. This is how coalition governments handle these issues all over the world," he said.
Pakistan's beleaguered Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani won tentative support at crisis talks with political opponents on Monday, raising hopes that his government can stave off imminent collapse.
The political turmoil was sparked on Sunday when coalition partner, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), quit the government to join the opposition.
The move severed the government's majority at a time of economic meltdown that has raised IMF concerns, and risked diverting Pakistani efforts, under US pressure, to do more to fight al Qaeda and the Taliban.