Pakistan told the United States to leave a remote desert air base reportedly used as a hub for covert CIA drone attacks, Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar was quoted by state media as saying Wednesday.
The United States is rejecting demands from Pakistani officials that American personnel abandon a military base used by the CIA to stage drone strikes against suspected militants, US officials told Reuters.
US personnel have not left the remote Pakistani military installation known as Shamsi Air Base and there is no plan for them to do so, said a US official familiar with the matter, who asked for anonymity to discuss sensitive material.
"That base is neither vacated nor being vacated," the official said. The information was confirmed by a second US official.
Regarding the Shamsi base in particular, Pakistani officials have frequently suggested it is being shuttered, comments that may be aimed at quieting domestic opposition to US military operations using Pakistani soil.
Earlier this week, Pakistani defense minister Ahmed Mukhtar told the Financial Times that Pakistan had already stopped US drone operations there.
On Thursday, Mukhtar told Reuters: "When they (US forces) will not operate from there, no drone attacks will be carried out."
He said Islamabad had been pressuring the US to vacate the base even before the May 2 commando raid in which US Navy SEAL commandos killed Osama bin Laden. After the raid, Mukhtar said, "We told them again."