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Gilani Tells US To Respect Pak Sovereignty

Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday said new rules of engagements between Pakistan, the United States, NATO and the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) must respect sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan.

"Relations with U.S. must be based on mutual respect and mutual interest," Gilani told U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides who called on him in the Pak capital Islamabad.

Nides was the second senior U.S. official to visit Pakistan in a week after Centcom Chief Gen. James Mattis and the U.S. Commander of ISAF in Afghanistan Gen. John Allen's meetings with military leaders in Rawalpindi. NATO air strikes on two Pakistani border posts that killed 24 Pak soldiers in November had badly affected Islamabad-Washington relations.

Gilani said Pakistan would like to build bilateral relations with the U.S. based on mutual respect and mutual interest. "We can achieve our objective, peace and stability in the region, and Afghan reconciliation through greater cooperation and on the basis of mutual trust" an official statement quoted him as saying.

According to Pak media reports, Gilani told the U.S. diplomat that the ongoing Parliamentary review process offered an unprecedented opportunity to bring transparency and credibility to the rules of engagement with U.S., NATO and ISAF.

Nides told Gilani that the U.S. fully respected Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The U.S. also recognized Pakistan's role as an important country within the region. He further said that the U.S. was looking forward to re-engage with Pakistan after the ongoing Parliamentary review process was concluded, the reports said.

Nides was accompanied by U.S. Ambassador to Islamabad Cameron Munter, Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Lavoy and Deputy Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Daniel Feldman.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jillani, and Pak Ambassador to the U.S. Sherry Rehman were also present.

by RTT Staff Writer

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