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Central & South Asia
US and Pakistan hold security talks
Senior US military officer seeks to douse Pakistani anger over cross-border raids.
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2008 13:06 GMT
US raids into Pakistan have sparked
an outcry across the country [EPA] 

US and Pakistani officials have discussed claims from Islamabad that US forces breached Pakistani sovereignty in recent raids.

The issue was discussed by Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, during a meeting on Wednesday with general Ashfaq Kayani, Pakistan’s most senior army officer, and Yousuf Raza Gilani, the country's prime minister.

"Admiral Mullen reiterated the US commitment to respect Pakistan's sovereignty and to develop further US-Pakistani co-operation and co-ordination on these critical issues that challenge the security and well-being of the people of both countries," a US embassy statement said.

The talks come amid tensions over US raids on areas of Pakistan close to the Afghanistan border, which are believed to harbour fighters linked to the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

"The conversations were extremely frank, positive, and constructive," the US embassy said.

Mullen "appreciated the positive role that Pakistan is playing in the war on terror and pledged continued US support to Pakistan," the embassy statement said.

Pakistani resolve

Sources say Pakistani officials told Mullen that unilateral cross-border raids by US ground forces based in Afghanistan would not deal a blow to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

"Such raids will be a setback to our efforts against the militants' network," the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP news agency.

Mullen's trip to Pakistan comes after a September 3 ground attack by US troops in South Waziristan, which left 15 people dead.

Kayani had previously said that Pakistani armed forces would protect the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity "at all cost."

Major General Athar Abbas, a Pakistani military spokesman, said that Pakistan would seek to guard its borders.

"We have repeatedly said we will defend our territory and we reserve the right to retaliate in case of any aggression," Abbas said on Wednesday.

Robert Gates, the US defence minister, said in the Afghan capital Kabul that the US will co-operate with Pakistan in an attempt to crack down on Taliban and al-Qaeda bases in the border areas.

He said that recent Pakistani military operations against fighters in the tribal areas were encouraging.

Source:
Agencies
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