'Building mutual trust key to defeating terror'
Islamabad: Terming the US drone strikes inside Pakistani territory as "useless" and "counter-productive", Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday told a visiting US diplomat that building mutual trust between the two countries was the key to success in counter-terrorism operations.
"Pakistan and the US share many important areas where there was convergence of mutual interests. The most notable among those were the goals of stability and peace in Afghanistan and the complete defeat of al Qaeda," Xinhua quoted Zardari as saying at the meeting with Marc Grossman, US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Grossman was in Islamabad for bilateral talks and to represent the US in a trilateral forum that includes Pakistan and Afghanistan.
"Bridging the trust deficit holds the key to Pakistan rejoining the counter-terrorism cooperation," Zardari was quoted as saying by the Associated Press of Pakistan.
Zardari reiterated Pakistan's opposition to the US drone strikes in the country's tribal region.
According to presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar, Zardari said Islamabad has always maintained that the drone attacks were highly counter-productive in the war against terror as they inflamed public sentiments due to innocent civilian casualties.
The president said both sides should consider setting up a framework to find a mutually acceptable alternative to the drone strikes, the spokesman said.
He said Pakistan wants to re-engage with the US at all levels, and was committed to providing assistance to the international presence in Afghanistan.
However, the international community should share the financial and economic cost of services and goods involved in the process.
Grossman told Zardari the US respected the parliamentary review of the relationship. He said Washington wanted to work with Islamabad and expressed hope that bilateral relations would be back to normal soon.
Grossman was accompanied by US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter and Assistant Secretary for Asia and Pacific Security Affairs Peter Lavoy.
The Pakistani delegation included Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Ambassador to US Sherry Rehman, among others.