ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday questioned why Pakistani officials have not been able to capture or kill members of al Qaeda taking refuge in the country.
"Al Qaeda has had safe haven in Pakistan since 2002," she told a group of Pakistani journalists during her trip to the country.
"I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn't get them if they really wanted to ... Maybe that's the case," she added. "Maybe they're not gettable. I don't know."
Al Qaeda, she said, has launched attacks on Indonesia, the Philippines and many other countries, "so the world has an interest in seeing the capture and killing of the people who are the masterminds of this terrorist syndicate."
"As far as we know, they are in Pakistan."
Asked to comment on the secretary's statements, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Ann Patterson, who was traveling aboard Clinton's plane, said that U.S. officials have made similar points to Pakistani officials.
"What we often say (is) that, yes, there's needs to be more focus on finding these leaders...They (the Pakistanis) have lost control of much of this territory in recent years and that's why they're in South Waziristan right now and that's where al Qaeda mostly is. So I think they are making a good-faith attempt to re-claim their own territory and go after them, and to re-claim their own territory which has served as a safe haven for these activities throughout the rest of the country for the past few years."
The U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, also traveling with Clinton, added: "In terms of the risk to American troops in Afghanistan, what they (the Pakistanis) are doing now is the highest priority....so going after them is something that we have strongly supported."
Secretary Clinton, he said, "has spoken at every public event, she has praised the army for doing this."
In her conversations with the journalists, Clinton said, "I am more than willing to hear every complaint about the United States" and "answer, but also to change where we can, so we that we do have better communication and we have better understanding."
"But this is a two-way street," she said. "If we are going to have a mature partnership where we work together," then "there are issues that not just the United States but others have with your government and with your military security establishment."
"I don't believe in dancing around difficult issues, because I don't think that benefits anybody," Clinton said, adding, "I ask in the pursuit of mutual respect that you take seriously our concerns."
Updated: 4:35 p.m.