Pakistan Again Calling for End to US Drone Strikes
(ISLAMABAD) -- As relations between Washington and Islamabad are close to bottoming out, Pakistan is again demanding that the U.S. cease all drone strikes in its territory, claiming they are a violation of national sovereignty.
The issue came up again on Thursday as Marc Grossman, special U.S. representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, began holding talks again with Pakistani officials.
During a joint news conference with the American official, Pakistan's foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani told reporters, "We consider drones as illegal, non-productive and accordingly unacceptable. This is an issue which also has been discussed at the highest civilian and military leadership."
While Washington has never formally acknowledged the use of unmanned CIA predator drones, U.S. operations to go after Taliban and al Qaeda leaders residing in Pakistan's northwestern region have picked up significantly since President Obama took office three years ago.
However, drone strikes have tailed off since an incident last November when 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed by NATO war jets in a "friendly fire" attack Obama has never officially apologized for.
Grossman's mission actually has more to do with reopening supply routes through Pakistan to Afghanistan that coalition forces need to receive weapons.
He told reporters, "We are ready to get to the work. We want to work to reopen the ground lines of communication. We want to discuss several outstanding claims for the coalition support fund."
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