Pakistan panel demands U.S. apology


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, March 20 (UPI) -- A Pakistani parliamentary commission says it wants an apology from the United States before it reopens access to supply routes to Afghanistan.

No apology has been issued by Washington.


Ties between the United States and Pakistan were severely strained last year after a NATO strike mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in a region near the border with Afghanistan.

A Pakistani parliamentary commission conducting a full review of the terms of cooperation with the United States and the NATO coalition in Afghanistan has demanded an end to U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan.

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The government panel said it wants an unconditional apology for the NATO attack, Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reported.

The committee is also calling for notification and approval before use of Pakistani airspace or bases, and compensation for use of Pakistan's ports and roads.

Pakistan said those held responsible for airstrikes last November in the Mohmand tribal area should be brought to justice and Pakistan should be given assurances that any acts impinging on Pakistan's sovereignty will not happen again, the newspaper said.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said during his daily press briefing that Pakistan "remains extremely important ... in our efforts to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan and achieve our objectives in terms of taking the fight to, and ultimately defeating al-Qaida."


Carney said the administration is awaiting the outcome of Pakistan's parliamentary process "to hear formally from the Pakistani government about how they would like to engage moving forward."

"It would not be productive for me to comment beyond that on specific recommendations or reports in the press," he said. "But I think it's important also to note that the United States has critical national security priorities that we continue to pursue, including counter-terrorism efforts aimed, as I said, at al-Qaida, strengthening Afghan security and supporting Afghan-led reconciliation. All are areas where we believe we have common goals with Pakistan and we continue to move forward on those areas because they're in our national security interest."

Acting U.S. Defense Undersecretary James N. Miller told the House Armed Services Committee Tuesday Pakistan "has legitimate interests that must be understood and must be addressed."

"Pakistan also has responsibilities," he said, adding, Pakistan must pursue policies that keep militant and extremist groups from enjoying refuge within its borders.

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