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US troops to leave Pak by March 31: Official

US soldiers, who helped in rescue work in Pak after last year's quake, would leave by month-end.
None | By Press Trust of India, Islamabad
PUBLISHED ON MAR 22, 2006 04:02 PM IST

US soldiers, who helped in rescue and rehabilitation work in Pakistan and PoK after last year's massive earthquake, would leave by month-end, a senior US military official has said.

Relief and rehabilitation operation of US marines in earthquake affected areas was coming to an end and all US troops who participated in the massive operation will leave Pakistan by March 31 in their Chinook helicopters, Gen Peter Pace, Chairman US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters on Tuesday.

He was speaking after touring the quake-affected areas with US Rear Admiral Michael Lefever, Commander US Disaster Assistance Center US ambassador Ryan C Crocker and Pakistan's Relief Commissioner Maj Gen Farooq.

General Pace visited the last US forces at the Muzaffarabad airport rapid refuelling point, currently manned by some 40 soldiers and marines.

Early next week this fuelling facility will be turned over to Pakistan military.

"Our troops did not face any kind of difficulty in the relief operation and we did our job without any inequity. We only worked for the humanity," he said.

Asked about the relief organizations working in the area, he said, "we have no concern what was their past and what they are doing today, we did our job and now the government of Pakistan will continue the reconstruction work."

Since arriving in Pakistan 48 hours after the October 8 earthquake, US forces undertook 5,000 relief sorties, delivered over 15,000 tons of relief supplies, treated over 30,000 patients, vaccinated over 20,000 Pakistanis and cleared over 40,000 tons of debris.

Crocker said people and government of Pakistan did a tremendous job in the aftermath of the calamity and pointed out that US government provided USD 200 million for reconstruction purpose.

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