WASHINGTON — The United States on Thursday reassured Pakistan that it will keep sending civilian assistance after it deferred $800 million in military aid in a bid to seek greater defense cooperation.
Thomas Nides, the US deputy secretary of state for management and resources, delivered the message in a telephone conversation with Pakistan's Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, the State Department said.
"We do have the slowdown on the security side, but our civilian assistance remains undeterred," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, describing the phone call.
"We continue to work productively on the civilian side. That assistance continues to flow," Toner told reporters.
The United States suspended the military assistance -- about one third of its $2.7 billion annual defense package -- some two months after a US operation killed top terror suspect Osama bin Laden near Pakistan's top military academy.
After the raid, the United States pledged to keep relations steady with Pakistan. But US frustration has mounted, including over Islamabad's decision to oust up to 200 US personnel who planned to train Pakistani forces.
The United States entered a war partnership with Pakistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks when Islamabad renounced its support for the hardline Taliban regime in neighboring Afghanistan.
President Barack Obama's administration took office in 2009 pledging to move the relationship away from just military cooperation and instead to focus on building Pakistan's weak civilian institutions, schools and infrastructure.
Toner said that the United States has given Pakistan some $2 billion in civilian aid since a major congressional bill was approved in 2009. Of the aid, $550 million was emergency relief for Pakistan's massive floods last year.