US assures Pakistan of no more border incursionsSeptember 17th, 2008 - 4:18 pm ICT by IANS
Islamabad, Sep 17 (IANS) Visiting US Navy chief Admiral Mike Mullen Wednesday assured Pakistani leadership of no more incursions inside the country’s territory, an attempt to easy tension that brewed between the two sides over recent US missile strikes in Pakistan’s northwestern region bordering Afghanistan, sources said. The US top military commander gave the assurance while meeting Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and other top officials of the country Wednesday, the Online news agency reported, citing sources.
Mullen also held separate meetings with Pakistan’s Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and National Security Advisor Mehmood Ali Durrani.
Pakistan has made it clear to the US commander that it would tolerate no more border incursions, and if it happens then Pakistan exercises the right to defend its borders, the agency said.
During his meetings, Mullen and Pakistani officials discussed issues related to the war on terror and Pakistan-Afghan borders. Besides this, they discussed recent statements issued by the two sides regarding US attacks inside Pakistan’s territory.
Mullen met Prime Minister Gilani at the PM house where General Kayani, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Advisor on Interior Affairs Rehman Malik and other key officials were also present.
“Pakistan is a key ally of US in the war against terror and we are not ignorant of defending our borders,” Gilani said, adding that his country would not allow any foreigners to come and take action against militants inside Pakistani territory.
He said Pakistan was against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and it would not compromise with militants. But only the Pakistani army has the right to take any action for maintaining peace, he underlined.
He also lodged a strong protest with the US commander over repeated border incursions and said that Pakistan would defend its borders at all cost and expressed the hope that the US would not repeat such steps.
The US admiral also assured the Pakistani leadership that such incidents of incursions would not happen any more and the US sees Pakistan with great respect and realises the potential of Pakistan as a key ally.
Earlier, Admiral Mullen also held a meeting with General Kayani at GHQ Rawalpindi in which the Army chief lodged a protest with the top US military commander over the recent violations of its territorial boundary by the Afghanistan-based foreign troops.
He said there was no agreement or understanding between the two countries which allowed the US to carry out attacks inside Pakistani boundary.
Meanwhile, US embassy spokesman Lou Fintor said Admiral Mullen wanted to improve coordination and cooperation with the Pakistani military.
“Admiral Mullen has worked to forge a closer relationship and he wants to continue the relationship building,” said Fintor.
Asked about Pakistani anger over cross-border US strikes, Fintor said Mullen “recognised the concerns expressed by General Kayani and desires to continue the dialogue.”
“The United States is committed to working with Pakistan to eliminate the safe havens,” he said.