China, Pakistan Deny Reports of Access to US Helo Wreckage

According to various news reports both Chinese and Pakistan officials have denied an earlier report that Pakistan provided the Chinese access to the US helicopter wreckage following the Osama bin Laden raid. The China Daily reported Aug. 17 that China’s Ministry of National Defense called the claim “groundless and ridiculous.” A Reuters report (via Yahoo News) cited a statement posted on China’s Ministry of Defense Web site as saying the claim was “totally unfounded and extremely absurd.” Voice of America reported that it had talked with Pakistan military spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, who said neither China nor any other third party had access to the wreckage, which had been kept under armed guard. US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta would neither confirm, nor deny the incident during a joint discussion with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at National Defense University in Washington, D.C., Aug. 16. When asked by former CNN correspondent Frank Sesno, who was moderating the event, if the reports were true, Panetta echoed Clinton’s previous remarks about the contentious relationship with the nuclear-wielding Pakistan. “As the secretary has said, it’s—this is a very complicated relationship with Pakistan,” said Panetta. When pressed on the issue, he said he would not comment on classified information. (Panetta/Clinton transcript)