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Gilani sees progress in US-Pakistan ties

Dec 06, 2011 07:17 AM IST India India

New Delhi: The row over the NATO strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers seems to have blown over, Pakistan says it is still committed to working with Washington. Hillary Clinton has welcomed Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's statement.

"Every neighbour has a stake in the future of Afghanistan. I think it was unfortunate that they did not participate and I said in my prepared remarks that it would have been better if they had come so we regretted the choice that they made. We continue to believe that Pakistan has a crucial role to play. I was encouraged by what Prime Minister Gilani said today while the conference was going on," Clinton said.

Gilani said that Pakistan has suffered a lot because of foreign terrorism and extremism, and that how can anybody doubt our intentions that after making so many sacrifices we will not be committed to reconciliation process in Afghanistan?

Pakistan boycotted the talks because of the airstrikes along the Pakistan-Afghan border that killed 24 Pakistani troops. The decision disappointed Afghan and Western leaders, who realize the vital role Pakistan has in any future stability in neighboring Afghanistan even as they complain that it tolerates, or even supports, insurgents along the border.

Pakistan refused pleas by Afghan and US leaders to attend the Bonn conference. Gilani said he did not regret skipping the meeting, saying "since the soil of Afghanistan was used against Pakistan in the NATO raids, there was a tremendous protest in my country and people putting pressure that we not attend."

Speaking in Germany, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called the deaths of the Pakistani soldiers tragic and reiterated a pledge for a thorough investigation. "No one is more interested than the United States in getting to the bottom of what happened in the border incident," she said.

President Barack Obama called Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Sunday to offer his condolences. No one from either NATO or the US has formally apologized, but they have disputed comments by Pakistan's army that the act was a deliberate act of aggression.

With additional information from Associated Press