US Vice President Dick Cheney has discounted the possibility of American forces going into Pakistan to hunt the Al- Qaeda even as they work closely with Islamabad.
"Well, we work closely with President Pervez Musharraf and his government in Pakistan. We've captured and killed a lot of Al Qaeda in Pakistan. But it's obviously a sovereign state. They've got reason to go after Al- Qaeda," he said in an interview on Tuesday with CNN's Larry King.
In response to a question if Pakistan had asked US to come in, Cheney said, " Well, I don't expect that to happen. I think the relationship we have at present is a good one. We have been able to collaborate closely together on a wide range of operations. And I think we'll be able to continue doing that."
Cheney's response was apparently designed to smooth ruffled feathers in Pakistan which has taken umbrage at several US officials recently asking it to do more to defeat terrorist forces on its soil and warning that Washington may on its own launch a military strike against Al- Qaeda "safe haven" in its tribal region.
In recent testimony before US Congress defence and intelligence officials have conceded that tribal areas in the North Waziristan area of Pakistan had become a "safe haven" for the terrorist organisation with a peace deal signed by Musharraf with tribals last year not working.
Meanwhile, at his regular media briefing White House spokesman, Tony Snow reiterated Washington's support to the government of Pakistan. "What we have seen is that there has been a real commitment, especially going into the tribal areas and trying to take care of the trouble spots-Al- Qaeda and Taliban-and to go after them.
"And that is something that is absolutely critical and we'll continue to support them in doing it," he said.
Asked about US still getting no access to AQ Khan, father of Pakistan's atomic bomb who allegedly ran a nuclear black market, Snow said he could not say what's going on with the AQ Khan network, but "it is important that he has been apprehended."