`US willing to offer solatia payment in Pak`

The US is willing to offer solatia payments to the families of Pakistani soldiers killed in a cross-border NATO strike last month.

Last Updated: Dec 23, 2011, 00:03 AM IST

Washington: In keeping with its practice in
Afghanistan, the US is willing to offer solatia payments to
the families of Pakistani soldiers killed in a cross-border
NATO strike last month as it tries to resolve the crisis
generated in its aftermath, a Pentagon spokesman said on Thursday.

The airstrike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and hit the
fragile US-Pakistan ties hard, following which Pakistan shut
down its NATO supply routes to Afghanistan in protest.

"In keeping with our normal practices in Afghanistan, the
United States is willing to offer solatia payments as a sigh
of our regret for the loss of life," Pentagon Press Secretary
George Little said.

"This is not necessarily a legal form of compensation,
but it is a sign of regret for the loss of life," Little said
in response to a question, adding that an offer has to be made
and accepted in accordance with the normal practice for
payments be made to each of the 24 families.

He said the US had accepted responsibility for the
"mistakes" and admitted "shortcomings" after a thorough
investigation.

"We have expressed our deepest regret for loss of life
and extended our condolences," Little said when asked about
the Pakistani demand that US should issue a formal apology.
"We have expressed our regret," he said.

Earlier at a news conference, the Pentagon Press
Secretary said the findings of the report would soon be shared
with the Governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan, both of whom
have already been briefed about it.

"General Dempsey has been in contact with the General
Kayani. They had a very professional and cordial conversation.
It`s my understanding that General (James) Mattis (CENTCOM
commander) has also reached out to General Kayani and that the
Pakistanis will be briefed on the findings of the report,"
Little said.

Earlier, the head of CENTCOM investigation refuted
Pakistani allegations that the investigation is not credible
and transparent.

"There`s nothing that is being withheld and the
transparency certainly would have been facilitated greatly had
Pakistan decided to participate in that," said CENTCOM
investigating officer Brigadier General Stephen Clark, who is
Director of Plans, Programs, Requirements and Assessments, Air
Force Special Operations Command Moderator.

He said it would have been beneficial to have the other
perspective but the investigation did not get the benefit of
Pakistan`s participation.

"I can`t say why they chose not to. I just know the fact
that they did not participate in -- in that portion of what we
would have found out is obviously going to be missing from
this report," he noted.

He said while the ISAF, NATO, CENTCOM as well as the
Afghan leadership participated, it was unfortunate that
Pakistan chose not to.

"I had an Afghan major general with us as part of the
team. He`s deputy commander of the border police with great
familiarity with the area and other things going on there.

"If we`re trying to find out what occurred in total,
that`s a significant element there that is missing, `cause
there`s always two sides to a particular event, and
perspectives," he conceded.

"I very much regret that we did not have Pakistani
participation," he said.

Clark said the US was working hard to clarify a
"complicated, convoluted situation" and was looking at the
aspects of lack of understanding or confusion in the
breakdown.

"What a country decides to put out in the press is not
something that I would put in a formal report. It is
information that would be noted," Clark said when asked about
the briefing to the US media last week by Pakistani Embassy
officials.

"But as far as the findings go, I have to go on what we
find as what we believe is factual and that we can trace back
to," he said.

PTI