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International relations

US's base search amid Afghan pullout stirs debate in Pakistan

Experts' views split over impact on China's Belt and Road from American presence

Pakistan, led by Prime Minister Imran Khan, has recently held high-level defense and national security talks with officials from the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden. (Source photos by AP and Reuters)

KARACHI -- When U.S. defense official David Helvey told the Senate that the Pentagon was exploring the possibility of basing U.S. forces in neighboring countries to provide over-the-horizon counterterrorism support to the Afghan government, he stirred debate in Pakistan, which has provided similar arrangements to the U.S. in the past, and caused some experts to wonder whether such a scenario might alter the U.S.'s position on China's Belt and Road Initiative.

"Pakistan has played an important role in Afghanistan, and they have supported the Afghan peace process. Pakistan also has allowed us to have overflight and access to be able to support our military presence in Afghanistan," Helvey told a Senate committee on May 20. "We will continue our conversations with Pakistan because their support and contribution to the future of Afghanistan, to the future of peace in Afghanistan, is going to be critical."

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