Afghan President Karzai Urges Pakistan to Attend Bonn Conference

Posted November 29th, 2011 at 2:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Afghan President Hamid Karzai is urging Pakistan to change its mind about boycotting the upcoming international conference on his country's future.

Mr. Karzai called Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, requesting the Pakistani government attend Monday's conference in Bonn, Germany. The Afghan leader also extended his condolences for the losses Pakistan suffered in the NATO airstrikes last week.

Earlier Tuesday, Pakistani officials announced they would not participate in the Bonn conference in protest of the airstrikes, which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last Saturday in a border region with Afghanistan. The conference is aimed at developing a strategy to stabilize Afghanistan as coalition forces withdraw in the coming years.

Pakistani military officials say they believe NATO launched the airstrikes intentionally. Speaking to members of the media Tuesday, General Ashfaq Nadeem also questioned whether Islamabad would participate in Washington's investigation of the matter.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she hopes Pakistan will change its mind about boycotting the conference.

“We certainly hope that they will review that decision. I understand Pakistan's concern concerning the killing of people by NATO troops, but I think they should still understand that the Afghanistan conference is a very important one.”

She says her government will try to persuade Pakistani officials to change their decision.

Many analysts agree that peace in Afghanistan hinges on whether or not Pakistan plays a constructive role in the process.

The top U.S. military officer said Monday Pakistan is justified in being angry about the NATO airstrikes that hit several Pakistani border posts on Saturday. But he declined to apologize, citing the need for an investigation.

A spokesman for the coalition in Afghanistan says the investigation team will look into all the facts regarding the incident.

“The focus of the investigation team will be to determine the facts of the incident and matters that facilitate a better understanding of the circumstances surrounding the death and the injuries of the Pakistan forces.”

In a report published Tuesday, the Associated Press quotes unnamed U.S. officials as saying military investigators believe Taliban militants attacked a U.S.-Afghan patrol in the border region to try to create confusion and draw U.S. and Pakistani forces into firing on each other.