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Taliban decision on polio is horrific: US

June 19, 2012 00:44 IST

The United States on Monday described as 'horrific' the Taliban announcement to ban polio vaccine in the tribal regions of Pakistan unless America stops the drone strikes.

"I hadn't seen that statement, but if it is as you described, it's a horrific decision by the Taliban," the State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, told reporters at her daily news conference when asked by the Taliban announcement in this regard.

"It is further to the point that we regularly make to Pakistanis, that these terrorist elements are as much a threat to Pakistan as they are to Afghanistan or anybody else. If they now taking their, you know, horrific actions to the children of Pakistan, then everybody needs to think hard about that," Nuland said.

Refraining from making any comment on the Taliban statement with regard to polio, the Pentagon Press Secretary, George Little, told reporters that the Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that nothing that was done in connection with the bin Laden raid should impede anything related to public health initiatives in Pakistan, Afghanistan or anywhere else.

Meanwhile both the State Department and the Pentagon said that there has been no progress on re-opening of the ground lines of communications, which were closed some six months ago.

"It is not that there is a full stop to discussions with the Pakistanis," Little said adding that the US is having its channel of communications with Pakistan open on this particular issue.

Over the weekend, the Taliban announced that it would not let the polio vaccine campaign to take place in the North Waziristan areas of Pakistan, as long as the US continues its campaign of drone strikes in the region.

"Polio drops will be banned in North Waziristan until the drones strikes are stopped," the statement had said.

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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