Pakistan rejects UAE appeal on air base ban to US

November 29th, 2011 - 4:29 am ICT by IANS  

Yousuf Raza Gilani Islamabad, Nov 29 (IANS) Islamabad has rejected a request from the UAE to withdraw its call to the US to vacate a key air base after a NATO raid killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

NATO aircraft struck two border posts in Pakistan’s tribal region early Saturday, which promoted call by the country’s top civilian and military leadership to the US to vacate the Shamsi air base in Balochistan province within 15 days.

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zeyed Al-Nahyan, who arrived in Islamabad on an unannounced visit, met with President Asif Ali Zardari Monday and requested him to take back the deadline set for the US to leave the air base.

President Zardari however told the UAE minister that it cannot be withdrawn, as people in the country are angry over the attack, Xinhua quoted TV channels as saying.

Al-Nahyan had advised the president to defer the decision until NATO completes its probe into the incident. “Pakistan must show patience,” he said.

The US has been using the air base for years for operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Saturday’s decision was taken at an emergency meeting of the cabinet defence committee, chaired by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. It had also ordered to close with immediate effect the NATO’s supply lines in Pakistan.

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