The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, says Pakistan's absence from the upcoming international conference on Afghanistan would be “unfortunate,” but will not derail Afghan progress or change the outcome of the gathering.
In an interview with VOA Saturday, Crocker said it will be Pakistan's loss if it boycotts the talks on Afghanistan's future, scheduled to begin Monday in Bonn, Germany.
Pakistani officials said repeatedly they would not participate in the Bonn conference, in protest of NATO airstrikes late last month that killed 24 government troops near the Afghan border.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Saturday to once again offer condolences to the families of the soldiers and to the Pakistani people. A brief State Department statement also “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.”
The talks in Bonn are taking place 10 years after the original conference, also in Bonn, in which diplomats appointed a transitional government in Afghanistan. At the upcoming gathering, to be attended by representatives from 85 countries, the international community is expected to renew its long-term commitment to Afghan security, stability and prosperity.
World leaders are also expected to further discuss the role of the coalition after the 2014 deadline for withdrawal of all foreign combat troops from the war-torn country.