Pakistan sees progress in ties with US

Pakistan sees progress in ties with US

ISLAMABAD - The Associated Press
In an overture to Washington, Pakistan’s prime minister says his country wants to repair U.S. relations pushed close to rupture since NATO airstrikes on the Afghan border killed 24 Pakistani troops last month.

Yousuf Raza Gilani said new ties being negotiated with the U.S. would ensure that the two countries “respected each other’s red lines” regarding sovereignty and rules of engagement along the border.

“We really want to have good relations with the U.S. based on mutual respect and clearly defined parameters,” he said in the interview at his residence in the eastern city of Lahore. “We are not anti-American, we are part of the system, we have to work with the entire international community.”

Despite Gilani’s gentler rhetoric, the gulf between the two nations remains wide. Pakistan yesterday temporarily recalled some troops from border posts meant to coordinate activity with international forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

The decision highlighted current problems with coordination because U.S. military officials seemed to think it was another retaliatory move by Pakistan for the NATO strikes.

The troops were recalled yesterday for “consultation” and should be back at their posts within the next few days, said a senior Pakistani military official. The official did not specify how many troops would be recalled or how many would be left at the border centers. U.S. military officials said late Dec. 5 that Pakistan was pulling out of at least two of the three centers along the border.

Pakistan has an important role to play in the Afghan peace process, including in any negotiations with the Taliban, and that is what Kabul is seeking, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said yesterday speaking at a joint news conference in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.