US diplomat seeks to repair ties with Pakistan
ISLAMABAD A TOP US diplomat on a fence-mending visit said on Wednesday that Pakistan had to address US concerns about security, calling for a ‘balanced’ relationship that works through the countries’ differences.
Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides held talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and other cabinet ministers as part of a gradual process designed to reset relations that nosedived over a series of crises in 2011.
US lawmakers voiced fury at the discovery last May of Osama bin Laden living in Pakistan, which had received $18 billion in aid for cooperation since the September 11, 2001 attacks. He was killed in a US special forces raid.
Pakistan was then incensed when US air strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last November, shutting its Afghan border to NATO supplies and evicting US personnel from an air base reportedly used as a hub by US drones.
“We believe that we can achieve a balanced approach in a relationship that respects Pakistan’s sovereignty and interests but also represents our concerns about our national security,” said Nides.
“Too much is at stake for us to turn away from each other, so we must work through all of these challenges,” he added.
Pakistan’s parliament is debating recommendations designed to reset the relationship with the United States, which include an end to drone strikes on Islamist militants seen as a violation of Pakistani sovereignty.
“We have different perspectives.
And we will where we have those, seek to find solutions that respect each others’ interests. I believe we will come out of this with a relationship that benefits both our nations,” Nides said.
Gilani said relations “must be based on mutual respect and mutual interest”.