‘Pakistan PM sees progress in US ties’
Last Updated: Monday, December 05, 2011, 21:39
  
Lahore: Pakistan wants to rebuild ties with the United States despite ongoing retaliation over deadly NATO airstrikes on its troops along the Afghan border, the country's prime minister said on Monday, stressing that he believes "it won't take long" to achieve a new relationship with the old ally.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's remarks indicate that Pakistan is looking for a way to restore some normalcy to ties with the US following the November 26 airstrikes, but wants to leverage the situation to try and reset the relationship in ways more beneficial to Pakistan.

Gilani also said the country remained committed to working with Afghanistan to bring insurgent leaders - many of whom are believed to be on its soil and to enjoy close relations with its security forces - into talks with the government and allow US to begin withdrawing its troops as it is committed to doing.

That may reassure international leaders meeting in Germany to discuss the future of Afghanistan.

Pakistan boycotted the talks because of the airstrikes along the Pakistan-Afghan border that killed 24 Pakistani troops. "I think we have evolved some mechanisms, and we are ready to cooperate," he said, referring to meetings with Afghanistan's military and intelligence chiefs on a framework for talks.

"We are committed (to reconciliation), despite that we are not attending (the Bonn meeting)," he said.

As well as boycotting the Bonn talks, Pakistan retaliated by blocking its Afghan border crossings to NATO supplies and giving the US 15 days to vacate Shamsi air base, which has been used by American drones used to strike militants along the Afghan border.

US Ambassador Cameron Munter said in a local TV interview that Washington was doing its best to comply with Pakistan's demand to leave the air base.

Gilani said new ties being negotiated with the US would ensure that the two countries "respected each other's red lines" regarding sovereignty and rules of engagement along the border.

While he gave few details, he made it clear he thought this was both desirable and possible.

"We hope, we really want to have good relations with the US based on mutual respect and clearly defined parameters," he said. "I think that is doable. I think that it won't take long."

The two sides have given differing accounts of what led to the attacks on the army posts. US officials have said the incident occurred when a joint US and Afghan patrol requested air support after coming under fire.

The US checked with the Pakistan military to see if there were friendly troops in the area and were told there were not, they said.

Pakistan has said the coordinates given by the Americans were wrong - an allegation denied by US defense officials.

PTI


First Published: Monday, December 05, 2011, 21:39


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