WASHINGTON - Top Obama administration officials - Defence Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton - said Tuesday that the US and Pakistan both have an interest in keeping up a close diplomatic and military relationship. Panetta and Clinton were responding to a question about reports that ISI allegedly let Chinese engineers examine the wreckage of US helicopter that crashed during the commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May. Panetta and Clinton appeared onstage together in an unusual session before an audience at National Defence University, and moderator Frank Sesno asked them directly what kind of 'ally would do such a thing - letting China to look at secret US technology. The United States has no choice but to keep up its alliance with Pakistan despite concerns over Islamabads ties to militants, Panetta said. Im not going to comment on classified matters, Panetta said, but he and Clinton fell back on familiar points about the 'complicated ties between the US and Pakistan and the checkered history between the two countries. America withdrew from Pakistan after helping support the Afghan insurgents against the Soviets, Clinton said, so Pakistani leaders are leery about whether the US will continue to work with them as American troops begin coming home from Afghanistan. Sure, its tough, but the Pakistanis have reasons to keep working with America as much for their own sake as any other reason, Panetta argued. The insurgent networks inside Pakistan, including the Haqqani network, the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba, someday will be a threat to the Pakistani government, Panetta said, despite their links with it in the past. But the two officials underscored the importance of maintaining ties with Pakistan in view of the fact that it is a 'nuclear power and represents an important force in the region. We consider our relationship with Pakistan to be of paramount importance, Clinton stated. We think it is very much in Americas interests. We think it is in the long-term interests of Pakistan for us to work through what are very difficult problems in that relationship, she added, in reference to the ongoing differences between the two sides, particularly since the May 2 unilateral action against bin Ladens hideout in Abbottabad. At the same time, Clinton acknowledged that Pakistans concerns and their viewpoint on whether the US is in for a long-term relationship should be viewed with some respect. In this context, she also referred to the on and off nature of relationship between the two countries, the last time being after Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, when the US abandoned the region and left Pakistan to contend with the wreckage of war. So I think Pakistanis have a viewpoint that has to be shown some respect, remarked the chief US diplomat. In his comments, Secretary Panetta said there was no option but to maintain a relationship with Pakistan in view of the fight against Al-Qaeda and the South Asian countrys key importance in the region. Yet there is no choice but to maintain a relationship with Pakistan. Why? Because were fighting a war there. Because we are fighting Al-Qaeda there, and they (Pakistanis) do give us, you know, some cooperation in that effort, Panetta said. They do represent an important force in that region. Because they do happen to be a nuclear power that has nuclear weapons and we have to be concerned about what happens with those nuclear weapons, he said, seeing 'ups and downs in the bilateral relations. Panetta said relations with Pakistan were difficult because elements of the government had links with the Haqqani network, which is staging attacks on US-led troops in neighbouring Afghanistan, and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). What makes this complicated is that they have relationships with the Haqqanis, and the Haqqani tribe are going across the border and attacking our forces in Afghanistan, he said. Its pretty clear that theres a relationship there, said Panetta. The Pakistanis were also sometimes withholding visas for some US embassy personnel assigned to the country, he added. But he said there were vital interests at stake that meant Washington had to stay committed to the partnership. AFP adds: The United States said Tuesday it has taken actions aimed at stemming the flow of funds and other aid to a commander of the militant Haqqani network which operates in Afghanistan and Pakistan. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton designated commander Sangeen Zadran under an executive order signed by President George W Bush in 2001 in a bid to block funds to suspected terrorists, the State Department said. As a result of the designation, all property subject to US jurisdiction in which Sangeen has any interest is blocked and US persons are prohibited from engaging in any transactions with him, it added. He is also blacklisted under the UN 1988 Sanctions Committee, which the State Department said requires all UN member states to enforce an assets freeze, a travel ban, and an arms embargo against Zadran. Zadran is the shadow governor for Paktika Province, Afghanistan and a commander of the Haqqani Network, based in North Waziristan Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, it said. Affiliated with the Taliban, the Haqqani network is considered the most dangerous enemy of US troops in eastern Afghanistan. Zadran helps lead fighters in attacks across southeastern Afghanistan, and is believed to have planned and coordinated the movement of hundreds of foreign fighters into Afghanistan, the State Department said. It linked Zadran to many attacks involving improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and suspected him of having orchestrated the kidnappings of Afghans and foreign nationals in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. Sangeen also acts as a senior lieutenant to Haqqani network leader Sirajuddin Haqqani, the State Department said.