No foreign troops would be deployed in Pakistan: Biden

US Vice President Joe Biden assured Pak that no foreign troops would be deployed in the country to fight militancy.

Updated: Jan 13, 2011, 00:33 AM IST

Islamabad: US Vice President Joe Biden
on Wednesday assured Pakistan`s top leadership that no foreign troops
would be deployed in the country to fight militancy as
Washington fully respects Islamabad`s sovereignty.

Biden gave the assurance about "no boots on the
ground" during parleys with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani,
an unnamed official privy to the meeting was quoted as saying
by state-run APP news agency.

The US also acknowledged as "legitimate" Pakistan`s
"apprehensions about foreign intervention through
Afghanistan", the official said.

The meeting was held against the background of US
plans to reduce troops in Afghanistan and provided an
opportunity to Biden to exchange views on key issues with
Pakistan`s civil and military leadership.

The two leaders also discussed whether Taliban would
be given a role in any future set-up in Afghanistan if they
disassociated themselves from al Qaeda, the official said.

US strategy in Afghanistan and the eventual pullout of
American and allied troops figured prominently in Biden`s
meetings with President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister
Gilani and army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, sources said.

Biden arrived in Islamabad on a day-long visit after
meeting Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul.

Pakistani leaders emphasized the need to jointly chart
a course of action to bring peace and stability to war-torn
Afghanistan and the region.

The unnamed official told APP that the meeting between
Gilani and Biden was "extremely useful" as both sides
discussed how to proceed on matters related to Afghanistan.

"The objective was to have a clear understanding of
what the US, Afghanistan and Pakistan want, and how they can
proceed towards achieving greater regional peace," the
official said.

The two sides agreed that a "strategic alignment" is
needed between Islamabad, Kabul and Washington to reach a
pragmatic solution ahead of the first deadline of July 2011 to
move towards an Afghan-led security apparatus.

The US was interested in finding out "Pakistan`s
bottom line" and its "intentions" regarding Afghanistan, the
official said.

Pakistan made it clear that there should be "no new
great game" in Afghanistan and that it does not expect any
country to indulge in a "proxy war or measures" that impact
the sovereignty of Pakistan or Afghanistan, the official said. Pakistan rejected the US assertion that "certain
elements" were operating from areas along the Pakistan-
Afghanistan border and said weapons and financial support were
coming into the country and adversely impacting the security
situation, the official said.

Pakistan urged the US to look for a pragmatic solution
instead of trading charges.

Vice President Biden sought Pakistan`s views on US-
Afghanistan ties and Prime Minister Gilani said Islamabad
wants normal state-to-state relations and that stability and
societal equilibrium should be restored in the neighbouring
country.

"No formula from abroad can resolve the Afghan issue,"
Gilani said.

Pakistan is willing to work for building the capacity
of Afghan police and security forces for counter-terrorism
duties.

Pakistan wants Afghans to be masters of their destiny
and is willing to facilitate the peace process in Afghanistan,
Gilani said.

During his meeting with Biden, President Asif Ali
Zardari called on the US to provide Pakistan drone technology
so that its armed forces could act on their own against
militants.

He also emphasised the need of the international
community`s support and understanding for the war on
terrorism.

Zardari said US drone attacks "undermined the national
consensus" for the war on militancy and reiterated Pakistan`s
call for transfer of drone technology.

PTI