Top US, Pakistani Generals Hold First Talks Since Deadly Cross-Border Strike

Posted March 28th, 2012 at 12:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Pakistan's army chief has met with top U.S. commanders for the first time since a November NATO airstrike on a border post killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, causing relations between the two countries to sink to a new low.

General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani met Wednesday with the head of U.S. Central Command, General James Mattis, and the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John Allen, at Pakistani army headquarters outside Islamabad.

The Pakistani military said the commanders would discuss the investigation into the November 26 cross-border attack and improvements in border coordination procedures.

The deadly strike further strained ties between the United States and Pakistan and prompted Pakistan to block NATO supply routes into Afghanistan.

In January, Pakistan's army rejected a U.S. military probe that blamed the attack on mistakes made by both sides. The army said it did not agree with U.S. findings that American forces acted in self-defense and with appropriate force after being fired on by Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan's military said the attack was deliberate.

The country's parliament is now debating new rules of engagement with the United States. A parliamentary committee reviewing U.S. ties is demanding a U.S. apology for the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers and an end to U.S. drone strikes.

U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday that Pakistan's review of its ties with the United States should not only respect Pakistan's sovereignty but also U.S. security needs. He acknowledged that relations between the two countries have been strained in recent months.

Mr. Obama made the comments alongside Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on the sidelines of an international nuclear summit in Seoul.