Pakistan Calls for US to Leave Base Used for Drones

Posted June 30th, 2011 at 6:45 am (UTC-5)
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Pakistan's defense minister has called for the United States to leave a remote air base in southwestern Pakistan that he says is used to launch drone strikes against Taliban and al-Qaida militants.

Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar says Pakistan has told the U.S. to leave the Shamsi air base in Baluchistan province, as tensions between the two countries continue following the May 2 raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

U.S. officials say there are no U.S. military personnel at the site, but there are conflicting reports about whether drones or other U.S. personnel are there.

The United States does not officially confirm the drone strikes, which are hugely unpopular among Pakistanis. But the CIA and the U.S. military are the only forces deploying the unmanned aircraft in the region. U.S. officials say the missile strikes have severely weakened al-Qaida's leadership.

Pakistani state media quoted Mukhtar on Wednesday as saying trust between the U.S. and Pakistan has eroded since bin Laden's killing, but that the two sides could repair relations by “sitting together and taking joint actions.”