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No final decision on Pak attending NATO summit

April 19, 2012 17:20 IST

Pakistan on Thursday said it was yet to decide on attending a NATO Summit next month that will focus on Afghanistan though it was developing a "work plan" on resetting ties with the United States on the basis of guidelines approved by its Parliament.

Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Khan said "no final decision" had been made on Pakistan's participation in the NATO Summit to be held in Chicago during May 20-21 or on a visit to Islamabad by US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman.

At the same time, the government is developing a "work plan" for new terms of engagement with the US in line with guidelines that were recently approved by a joint session of parliament, Khan told a weekly news briefing.

The NATO Summit in Chicago is expected to discuss key issues like funding of Afghan security expenditure and foreign troop levels in the war-torn country in the period up to 2014.

In recent weeks, the US has been in contact with the Pakistan government to ensure its participation in the NATO summit.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani ordered a parliamentary review of ties with the US after a cross-border NATO air strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November.

The attack has held up cooperation between Pakistan and the US on finalising the endgame in Afghanistan ahead of the withdrawal of American and other foreign forces.

Following the approval of guidelines by parliament, Pakistan's top civil and military leadership decided to negotiate new terms for joint counter-terrorism cooperation and the reopening of NATO supply routes which were closed.

Spokesman Khan said the Defence Committee of the Cabinet had discussed the matter and a work plan is being developed to "make sure of the effective implementation of the guidelines which have been provided by the parliament".

"Pakistan's relation with the US is an important relationship. We want to address all issues in a way that both countries show respect for their mutual interests as well as the red lines that we have," Khan said.

Pakistan had made it clear to the US that drone attacks in the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan were a "violation of our territorial integrity", he said.

"They do understand our red lines and we also appreciate their concerns. At the end of the day, the two countries will have to find some middle ground as to how we want to move further," he added.

Developing the work plan for resetting the ties with the US is Pakistan's "own internal process" and the country will not take instructions from anyone, Khan said.

This will be a comprehensive exercise covering economic, security and political issues and will involve all stakeholders, he said.

Asked about efforts to repatriate slain Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden's widows and children, Khan said the matter is being handled by the interior ministry.

"They are in touch with authorities in (Saudi Arabia and Yemen) and are trying to resolve the issue in a fair and practical manner," he said without giving details.

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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