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The relationship between the United States and Pakistan is growing more tense, as the latter looks to strengthen its ties with neighbor China instead. As Reuters reports:

Pakistan warned the United States on Tuesday to stop accusing it of playing a double game with Islamist militants and heaped praise on “all-weather friend” China.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, speaking exclusively to Reuters, said any unilateral military action by the United States to hunt down militants of the Haqqani network inside Pakistan would be a violation of his country’s sovereignty.

However, he side-stepped questions on the tense relations with the United States and offered no indications of any steps Pakistan might take to soothe the fury in Washington.

The outgoing chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, last week described the Haqqani network, the most violent faction among Taliban militants in Afghanistan, as a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s ISI spy agency and accused Islamabad of providing support for the group’s September 13 attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul.

“The negative messaging, naturally that is disturbing my people,” Gilani said in the interview from his office in Islamabad. “If there is messaging that is not appropriate to our friendship, then naturally it is extremely difficult to convince my public. Therefore they should be sending positive messages.”

Since Mullen’s comments, Pakistan has launched a diplomatic counter-attack and attempted to drum up support from its strongest ally in the region, China.

Pakistani officials have been heaping praise on China since its public security minister arrived here on Monday for high-level talks.

“We are true friends and we count on each other,” Gilani said in separate comments broadcast on television networks after talks with Meng Jianzhu on Tuesday.

The United States is all too familiar with the complications that result from a close relationship with Pakistan. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen has recently been vocal in criticizing Pakistan for “exporting violence” to Afghanistan and undermining U.S. anti-terrorism efforts there.

These concerns are not unique to the United States. As Pakistan moves further away from the United States and closer to China, the tricky issue of Pakistan-trained militants has created controversy in their relationship as well. In August, China pointed to Pakistan after Pakistani-trained militants launched deadly attacks in western China. Even so, the bond between the countries has been growing, as shown when a top Chinese security official visited Pakistan this week. Whether the Chinese will fully realize how complicated it is to maintain close diplomatic and military ties to Pakistan is yet to be seen.

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