Hillary Clinton calls Gilani
US Starts Vacating Shamsi Airbase
PRESS TRUST OF INDIA
Islamabad/Washington, Dec 4: As Pak-US ties plunged to a new low after a deadly NATO strike, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani to offer her condolences on the "unintended" killing of 24 Pakistani troops, but was unable to make him reconsider the decision to boycott a key meet on Afghanistan.
Clinton called Gilani last evening and "conveyed her personal condolences on the death of Pakistani soldiers," said a statement issued by the Prime Minister's House in Islamabad.
She said the "attack was not intentional" and asked Pakistan to "wait for the outcome of the investigation" into the incident.
In a bid to address concerns raised by Islamabad over what Pakistani military officials described as an "unprovoked act of blatant aggression", Clinton said the US has the "highest regard for Pakistan's sovereignty".
"This incident should not be allowed to jeopardise the bilateral relationship. Pakistan and US have common interests," she said.
Clinton also raised with Gilani the issue of Pakistan's participation in the Afghan meet in Bonn tomorrow.
Gilani told her that the Parliamentary Committee on National Security had supported the Cabinet's decision not to participate in the Bonn Conference.
In Washington, the State Department also said that Clinton spoke with Gilani and "once again expressed condolences to the families of the soldiers and to the Pakistani people for the tragic and unintended loss of life in (in the NATO attack in) Mohmand (tribal agency) last weekend."
"She reiterated America's respect for Pakistan's sovereignty and commitment to working together in pursuit of shared objectives on the basis of mutual interest and mutual respect," it said in a statement.
US STARTS VACATING SHAMSI AIRBASE
The US today started pulling out its nationals from Shamsi airbase, reportedly used by CIA-operated drones, on the orders of Pakistan government after a deadly NATO cross-border air-strike killed 24 of its soldiers.
An American aircraft arrived in Pakistan to fly out US nationals. After the aircraft landed, the US nationals boarded it amidst strict security, TV news channels reported.
Officials from the Federal Investigation Agency were present at the airbase, the reports said.
Residents living around Shamsi airbase were told not to leave their homes while the American nationals were being taken to the aircraft.
There was no official word on the development from Pakistani or American officials.
Pakistan asked the US to vacate the remote airbase in Balochistan within 15 days and blocked routes used to transport supplies to US and allied forces in Afghanistan after a cross-border NATO air strike on two military posts killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on November 26.
Reports have said the Shamsi airbase, located about 300 km from Balochistan capital Quetta, has been used by US drone used to target militants in Pakistan's restive tribal belt.
Pakistan reportedly leased the base to the United Arab Emirates in 1992, and the US was given access to the facility after the 9/11 terror attacks.
This is the third time Pakistan has asked the US to vacate Shamsi airbase. Similar demands were made after CIA contractor Raymond Davis gunned down two men in Lahore in January and after the US military raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May.
The Express Tribune quoted a US government source as saying that the Americans had spent months preparing for a possible eviction from Shamsi by building up other drone launching and staging capabilities.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 4 Dec 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 4 Dec 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 5 Dec 2011 00:00:00 IST
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