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'Pak, NATO expectations not fully fulfilled at US summit'

By Rezaul H Laskar
May 22, 2012 16:13 IST
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The expectations of both Pakistan and NATO have not been "fully fulfilled" at the alliance's summit in Chicago, Pakistan's powerful army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has said.

Kayani made the remarks during an interaction with the media on the sidelines of a banquet hosted by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for his visiting Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday night.

He did not give details of the expectations he was referring to.

Kayani said the situation would become clear when the Pakistani delegation returned from Chicago, where the NATO Summit was held.

He did not comment on reports that Pakistan had asked for USD 5,000 as the fee for every NATO container sent to Afghanistan as a condition for reopening NATO supply routes.

Without giving the figure or other details pertaining to the dispute over the NATO supply routes, Kayani said the Pakistan government would clarify its position after the return of the delegation from Chicago.

Though NATO extended a last-minute invitation to President Asif Ali Zaradri to attend the summit in Chicago that concluded on Monday, Islamabad and Washington were unable to conclude a formal agreement on reopening the supply routes that were closed in November after a cross-border NATO air strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

Reports have said the two sides have been unable to narrow their differences on the fee to be paid for every container and tanker sent to Afghanistan through Pakistani territory.

Responding to a query, Kayani said he had not scheduled any visit to the US before the NATO air strike and no such visit was on the cards now.

"This is sheer kite-flying by the foreign media," he said.

Asked about the avalanche that had buried 139 people at a high-altitude army camp in Siachen sector, Kayani said the army had no plan to give up its search for those buried under the snow.

He said that it was hard to declare the buried personnel as "martyrs" but an announcement could come in two weeks.

"One must keep praying for miracles," he said In Chicago, Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said the impression that Pakistan was going to announce restoration of NATO supply routes during the summit as a condition for the country's attendance was proved wrong.

Babar said President Asif Ali Zardari's articulation of Pakistan's position on restoration of ground lines of communication and other issues had led to clarity and understanding of Islamabad's perspective, the official APP news agency reported.

He explained that clarity means recognition by US President Barack Obama that the two sides need to work through issues.

"If President Obama says we need to work through tensions and President Zardari says we are bound to follow Parliamentary guidelines, it is clarity".

Zardari, Babar noted, also stated that Parliament had issued guidelines for the relationship with the US and that Islamabad was bound to follow those guidelines.

Asked about conditions for resumption of NATO supply routes, Babar said the most important thing was that there was mutual trust and respect.

Pakistan's Ambassador to US Sherry Rehman said the democratic government had been dealing with issues unambiguously and transparently. Pakistan, she said, clearly had concerns.

"We cannot gloss over differences -- we are dealing with issues without compromising Pakistan's strategic concerns, we are following Parliamentary guidelines -- we are looking for an apology (by US for NATO strike)".

"Pakistan's national interest cannot be traded for positive feedback at conferences," she said in response to a suggestion that Pakistan's gestures could have won it international appreciation.

No country was trading their interests. Pakistan, the US and NATO were all searching for common ground, she said, adding Pakistan had been very clear about its sovereignty.

She said she felt positive vibes of realisation on both sides.
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Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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