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After WikiLeaks Release, White House Says There Is "No Blank Check" For Pakistan

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari seen prior to a meeting, Feb. 23, 2009 in Shanghai, China. AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko

In the wake of the release of secret documents suggesting that Pakistani intelligence may have worked with the Taliban to coordinate attacks on U.S. troops, including suicide bombings, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs stressed today that there is "no blank check" for Pakistan, which gets more than $1 billion in aid from the United States each year.

"Look, I think the president was clear back in March of 2009 that there was no blank check for Pakistan; that Pakistan had to change the way it dealt with us; it had to make progress on safe havens," he said.

Gibbs said "it's in the interest of the Pakistanis" to work against the Taliban and insurgents "because we certainly saw last year those extremists that enjoyed a safe haven there turning their eye on innocent Pakistanis."

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Gibbs suggested that the concerns expressed in the documents about Pakistani intelligence services and other issues are not new.

"We have certainly known about safe havens in Pakistan," he said. "We have been concerned about civilian casualties for quite some time. And on both of those -- both of those aspects, we've -- we've taken steps to make improvements."

Later, he said he was "not trying to downplay the seriousness of those concerns."

"They are serious," he said.

"...Even as they make progress, we understand that the status quo is not acceptable and that we have to continue moving this relationship in the right direction," he said of Pakistan. Gibbs quoted President Obama's March 2009 comment that "Pakistan must demonstrate its commitment to rooting out Al Qaida and the violent extremists within its borders."

"Again, look, even if you look at some of the comments the Secretary of State made just last week in Pakistan, and, you know, our criticism has been relayed both publicly and privately," he said. "And we will continue to do so in order to move this relationship forward."

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