U.S. releases $1.6 billion in aid to Pakistan

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(CNN) — The Obama administration has decided to release more than $1.6 billion in aid to Pakistan, a senior administration official said.

The official told CNN foreign affairs reporter Elise Labott that the decision was made because of improved relations over the past year.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was elected in May, is scheduled to meet President Barack Obama at the White House on Wednesday. “The visit will highlight the importance and resilience of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship,” a White House statement said.

Tensions with Pakistan escalated after the U.S. military raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011. Pakistan expelled some American military trainers, and some U.S. aid was halted that year.

The discovery of bin Laden in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, highlighted suspicions by American leaders that some Pakistani security forces may have collaborated with terrorists. Obama chose not to alert Pakistan’s authorities before the U.S. raid.

Meanwhile, popular opinion in Pakistan has been inflamed by the U.S. incursion to kill bin Laden as well as U.S. drone strikes against suspected terrorists.

Sharif promised in his election campaign to try to improve relations with India, a rivalry that underlies the fears of Pakistan’s security forces.

He was vague about terrorism and other issues of interest to the United States, but analysts said Sharif worked well with U.S. officials as Prime Minister during the 1990s.

By David Simpson

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