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Pak not to participate in US-led air strike probe

Pakistan is refusing to participate in the US-led probe into NATO bombing that left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead.

Updated: Dec 03, 2011, 10:51 AM IST

Washington: Pakistan is refusing to
participate in the US-led probe into NATO bombing that left 24
Pakistani soldiers dead along the Afghanistan border last
week, the Pentagon has said.

"The Pakistanis have certainly been invited to join the
investigation. We believe their participation would be
important as we look into this tragic incident. They have
elected, to date, not to participate, but we would welcome
their participation," Pentagon press secretary George Little
said at a news conference here.

Following the last week`s incident, that has created
outrage in Pakistan, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) has
constituted an investigation to be led by a top official and
invited the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan to
participate in it.

The International Assistance Security Force (ISAF) in
Afghanistan would too be part of the investigation, which has
to be completed by December 23.

"The relationship with Pakistan remains very important to
the United States. We think that cooperation with Pakistan on
a variety of fronts, to include counterterrorism, is
essential.

We realise the bumps in the road that we`ve experienced
over the past several months, but we`re going to work very
hard to work with our Pakistani counterparts to get over this
latest bump in the road," Little said.

Navy Capt John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said the US
has expressed its remorse and regret for the loss of life at
the highest levels of the Department of Defense.

"What we aren`t going to do is get into fixing blame or
fault right now. There`s an investigation going on. We need to
let that investigation proceed, let the facts take us where
they may and we certainly continue to invite the Pakistanis to
participate in that investigation," he said.

We realise the bumps in the road that we`ve experienced
over the past several months, but we`re going to work very
hard to work with our Pakistani counterparts to get over this
latest bump in the road," Little said.

Navy Capt John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said the US
has expressed its remorse and regret for the loss of life at
the highest levels of the Department of Defense.

"What we aren`t going to do is get into fixing blame or
fault right now. There`s an investigation going on. We need to
let that investigation proceed, let the facts take us where
they may and we certainly continue to invite the Pakistanis to
participate in that investigation," he said.

Responding to questions, Kirby said it was a military
engagement, but did not go into details.

"It was a military engagement, in fact, that that
cross-border fire resulted in the deaths of some two dozen
Pakistani soldiers, not innocent villagers or civilians. I`m
not going to get into the details of how it occurred. That`s
what we`re doing right now in the investigation," he said.

Kirby said the Department of Defence is working with
Pakistan to reopen the supply routes that has been closed by
Pakistan in retaliation of the killing of its 24 soldiers.

"We certainly look forward to working with Pakistan to
get those gates back open, clearly. That said, logistics is
about alternative, it`s about options, and we`re certainly
working through what sort of options we may need to pursue,"
he said.

"We have a very important mission in Afghanistan, and
we`re going to make sure that our troops have what they need,
when they need it, to accomplish that mission," Kirby said.

Insisting that US-Pak relationship is very important,
Little said the Pentagon is working hard to improve on it in
the aftermath of the incident.

"Let me say in the strongest possible terms, that this
was not in any way, shape or form an intentional attack by the
United States military on Pakistan," he said.

"The relationship with Pakistan, as I said before, is
absolutely critical and essential. We are partners with the
government of Pakistan. The sign of strength in any
relationship is how we work through very serious disagreements
and incidents such as this.

This was, in fact, a tragedy. So we are going to be
working overtime to try to resolve our differences on this and
other matters so that we can take the long view on the
Pakistani relationship. It is an essential one, and that is
our goal," Little said.

PTI