ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Pakistan rejected a request from the United Arab Emirates to withdraw its order to the United States to vacate an air base, Xinhua said quoting local reports.
Pakistan, reacting to the weekend NATO airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, has closed two supply routes to coalition forces in Afghanistan and ordered the United States out of the Shamsi air base in Balochistan Province. The base is reported to used by the CIA for its drone attacks against suspected militants hiding Pakistani's tribal regions.
The request to Pakistan to withdraw its air base vacation order was made by visiting UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zeyed Al-Nahyan, the Chinese official news agency reported.
During his unannounced visit, the UAE minister met with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and requested him to take back the air base order, the report said.
The report quoted Zardari as telling the visitor the decision had been taken by Pakistan's Defense Committee of the Cabinet and hence could not be withdrawn.
Xinhua, quoting local television channels, said the UAE foreign minister urged Zardari to defer the decision until NATO had completed the investigation into the airstrike.
The report said Pakistan handed over the Shamsi airbase to the UAE in 1992 for hunting expeditions, and the UAE has allowed the United States to use the facility.