US envoy condolens Pakistan soldiers` deaths
Last Updated: Thursday, December 01, 2011, 21:39
  
Islamabad: US envoy Cameron Munter on Thursday condoled the "tragic" deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers in a cross-border NATO air strike, in a bid to defuse bilateral tensions, and hoped the two sides would emerge from the crisis as "stronger partners".

The Pakistani military has described the incident as an "unprovoked act of blatant aggression".

"I would like to extend my most sincere condolences to the people and government of Pakistan, and especially to Pakistan's men and women in uniform, for the tragic incident that occurred on November 26 in Mohmand Agency," Munter said in his message.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the men who died. Hamey bohat afsos hay (we are deeply saddened)," he said.

Pakistan and the US had stood together for over 60 years and weathered previous crises together, he said.

"I am certain we will weather this one, too, and emerge together as stronger partners," he added. Munter reiterated the US administration's offer to probe the incident.

"We take this matter very seriously and pledge to you a full, in-depth investigation. I want to emphasise to the people of Pakistan my personal commitment to do all I can to make sure that we emerge from the tragic incident as stronger partners," he said.

The newspaper had quoted its sources as saying that Munter had informed White House officials on Monday that a video statement from Obama was needed to prevent further deterioration in Pakistan-US relations.

However, Defense Department officials decided that expressions of remorse offered by senior officials like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were enough.

Pakistan responded angrily to the attack by closing all NATO supply routes passing through its territory and asking the US to vacate Shamsi airbase, reportedly used by CIA-operated drones.

The Pakistan government subsequently decided to boycott the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan to protest the NATO attack.

PTI


First Published: Thursday, December 01, 2011, 21:39


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