NATO raid not a deliberate attack: Obama

US Prez telephoned his Pakistani counterpart to express his condolence over the death of 24 Pak soldiers in a NATO air strike last week.

Last Updated: Dec 04, 2011, 23:52 PM IST

Washington: US President Barack Obama
telephoned his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari on Sunday to
express his condolence over the death of 24 Pakistani soldiers
in a NATO air strike last week and told him the "regrettable"
incident was not a "deliberate attack".

The incident has thrown the already fragile US-Pakistan
ties into a tizzy, with Pakistan boycotting the Bonn
conference to discuss the future of Afghanistan.

"Earlier today the President placed a phone call to
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to personally express his
condolences on the tragic loss of twenty-four Pakistani
soldiers this past week along the border of Afghanistan and
Pakistan," the White House said in a statement.

"The President made clear that this regrettable incident
was not a deliberate attack on Pakistan and reiterated the
United States` strong commitment to a full investigation," the
White House said.

During the roughly 30-minute call, the two Presidents
reaffirmed their commitment to the US-Pakistan bilateral
relationship, which is critical to the security of both
nations, and they agreed to stay in close touch, said the
statement.

The cross border attack, that the US has described as
`unintended`, led Pakistan to close the NATO supply routes
through its territory in protest. Following the attack
Pakistan Army chief Ashfaq Pervez Kayani also gave the Army
full liberty to retaliate in similar cases in the future.
Top Pakistani officials have said that Islamabad needs to
review its relations in the wake of the incident described by
the Army as "a blatant act of aggression".

"We`ll let Zardari`s office tell you what he said," a
senior administration official said when asked what the
response from the Pakistani President was.

"The Presidents discussed the decisions Pakistan recently
announced with regards to reviewing our security relationship
and President Obama expressed our commitment to working
through these issues in a manner that is most beneficial to
both countries," the official said on condition of
anonymity.

Following the incident, Pakistan also ordered the US to
vacate the Shamsi airbase, that was reportedly being used by
CIA-operated drones.

The US today started pulling out its nationals from the
airbase amidst strict security.

"We`ll let Zardari`s office tell you what he said," a
senior administration official said when asked what the
response from the Pakistani President was.

"The Presidents discussed the decisions Pakistan recently
announced with regards to reviewing our security relationship
and President Obama expressed our commitment to working
through these issues in a manner that is most beneficial to
both countries," the official said on condition of
anonymity.

Following the incident, Pakistan also ordered the US to
vacate the Shamsi airbase, that was reportedly being used by
CIA-operated drones.

The US today started pulling out its nationals from the
airbase amidst strict security.

PTI