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U.S. Secretary of State says NATO raid should not jeopardize Pakistan-U.S. ties

(Xinhua)

14:29, December 04, 2011

ISLAMABAD, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani late Saturday night and said recent NATO strike "should not be allowed to jeopardize the bilateral relationship and Pakistan and the U.S. have common interest," Pakistani media reported on Sunday.

Local media quoted a statement from the prime minister's office as saying that "The Secretary of State conveyed her personal condolences on the death of Pakistani soldiers. She added that the attack was not intentional and that we must wait for the outcome of the investigation."

Hillary Clinton said that the U.S. has the highest regard for Pakistan's sovereignty and she also raised with Gilani the issue of Pakistan's participation in the Bonn Conference, said the statement.

Gilani told Clinton that he had promised to refer the matter of Pakistan's participation at Bonn to the Parliament's National Security Committee to German Chancellor Markel when she raised it with him, but the committee has supported the decision of the Cabinet not to participate in the Bonn Conference.

During the telephone conversation, Gilani also informed Clinton that Pakistan has set December 11 for the U.S. to vacate the Shamsi air base.

Local media reported that the U.S. is preparing to vacate the airbase and Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Saturday that Pakistan has sent members of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to monitor the withdrawal of U.S. military personnel from the base.

On November 26, NATO fighter jets and helicopters attacked two Pakistani border check posts in Mohmand tribal region near the Afghan border, killing 24 troops and injuring 13 others.

Following the attack, Pakistan has closed supply line for NATO forces in Afghanistan, asked the U.S. to vacate a strategically important air base in Balochistan province and boycotted the Bonn Conference on Afghani issue as a protest to the NATO strikes.

The U.S. had been using the Shamsi airbase since 2001 for operations in Afghanistan and drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal regions, according to news reports.

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