Pak ambassador’s absence from meet not linked to drones: US

US has rejected suggestions that Pak refused to send its ambassador to Washington last week for a key meeting in protest against drone attacks.

Updated: Jan 06, 2013, 15:54 PM IST

Islamabad: The United States has rejected suggestions that Pakistan refused to send its ambassador to Washington last week for a key meeting at the State Department in protest against drone attacks.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told a briefing in Washington that the meeting between Ambassador Sherry Rehman and Deputy Secretary Thomas Nides happened on the phone.

According to Dawn News, Nuland said that the Pakistani envoy was scheduled to meet Nides at the State Department on Thursday, but she could not come because of her engagements in Islamabad, but they did discuss a “full range of issues” on the phone.

Some media outlets claimed that the Pakistani government did not allow Rehman to attend the meeting because it wanted to protest against US drone strikes in Fata, the report said.

The media also noted that since she became the ambassador in late 2011, Rehman has spent more time in Islamabad than in Washington.

The United States decreased drone strikes in Pakistan 2012 as the attacks became widely unpopular. Still, it carried about 50 strikes this year compared to 72 in 2011 and 122 in 2010.

Pakistan wants the United States to discontinue the strikes because they also have killed a large number of civilians.

The US has rejected the claim, saying that most of those killed were dangerous militants, the report added.