Pakistan tells Britain to withdraw military trainers

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Pakistan has asked Britain to withdraw a team of military trainers, the Ministry of Defence said Monday, amid tensions between Islamabad and its western allies over the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Britain said Pakistan had made the request to remove around 20 training staff due to "security concerns", but it comes after the United States earlier this month also drew down its training staff at Islamabad's request.

"The UK has been asked to withdraw some of its training support teams on a temporary basis by the Pakistan government in response to security concerns," the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

"We are providing training support at the invitation of the Pakistan government and welcome their advice on these matters.

"The training teams will continue their own training and will be ready to re-deploy at the first possible opportunity."

The move comes just four days after British Foreign Secretary William Hague visited Pakistan and hailed the "unbreakable partnership" between the two countries.

The trainers were working with Pakistan's paramilitary Frontier Corps force in the southwestern province of Baluchistan, who are fighting Taliban militants along the Afghan border, the Guardian newspaper reported.

Relations between Pakistan and the west, particularly the United States, deteriorated sharply over the US raid that killed bin Laden on May 2, which humiliated the Pakistani military and invited allegations of incompetence and complicity.

Washington said last week that it had nearly completed a drawdown in military personnel demanded by Pakistan, thought to reduce the number of trainers from 130 to fewer than 40.

© 2011 AFP

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