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Osama in Pak-Afghan tribal belt: US

world Updated: Jul 22, 2010 12:00 IST

The US says elusive Al Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden is in the tribal areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan though the Pakistani government at its top levels may not know about it.

Asked about a statement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that some elements in the Pakistani government knew about bin Laden's whereabouts, State Department spokesperson Phillip Crowley said she had only reiterated what she had said last October.

"We believe - I think we believe that he is - remains in the tribal areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan, but I'll leave it there," he told reporters on Wednesday.

"I think she's not suggesting that at the highest levels that there's specific knowledge of where bin Laden is," he added.

"I think the CIA director recently said on a major television programme it is - he's not sure precisely today where bin Laden is."

"I think what the secretary was saying was that it's our belief that somewhere within the government there is this kind of knowledge, and we would hope that if that knowledge is available we can find out and take appropriate action," Crowley said.

The US is constantly evaluating the effectiveness of more than $13 billion in aid given to Pakistan for fighting terrorism and induce it to cease support for terrorist groups, he said in response to another question.

"We are continually evaluating how to make those as effective as possible, how to channel them so that as much as this assistance as possible gets to the intended beneficiaries," he said when asked about a senator's letter to Clinton asking for a congressionally mandated report on the effectiveness of US aid that was due April 15.

"We are reporting on a regular basis to the Congress given not only the large sum of money that we are seeking in support of this programme under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation," he said.

Released Monday when Clinton was in Islamabad, Democrat Senator Robert Menendez' letter pointed out that with much of Al Qaeda's leadership believed to be residing in the tribal areas along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, it has received more than $13 billion in the US aid since the Sep 11, 2001 terror attacks.