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Pakistan unrelenting in demanding drone strike end

Associated Press
Jul 28, 2012 at 11:57pm IST

Aspen: Pakistan's ambassador to the United States says her country will not relent from demanding that the CIA end its drone strikes. In a debate with White House war adviser Douglas Lute at the Aspen Security Forum, Sherry Rehman said drone attacks have damaged al-Qaida but are now only serving to recruit new militants.

"I am not saying drones have not assisted in the war against terror, but they have diminishing rate of returns," Rehman said by video teleconference from Washington.

With Pakistan's spy chief, Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam, expected to hold his first meeting with CIA Director David Petraeus at CIA headquarters in Virginia next week, the ambassador said, "We will seek an end to drone strikes and there will be no compromise on that."

Pak unrelenting in demanding drone strike end

Sherry Rehman said drone attacks have damaged al-Qaida but are now only serving to recruit new militants.

Lute would not comment on the drone program. US officials have said privately that it will continue because Pakistan has proved incapable or unwilling to target militants the US considers dangerous.

A long-sought US apology to Pakistan over a deadly border incident cleared the way to restart counter-terrorism talks.

In addition to the end to drone strikes, Pakistani officials say they will ask the US to feed intelligence gathered by the pilotless aircraft to Pakistani jets and ground forces so they can target militants.

While neither side expects much progress, officials from both countries see the return to dialogue as a chance to repair a relationship dented by a series of incidents that damaged trust on both sides.

US officials remain angry over what they say is Pakistan's support of Taliban groups, including the militant Haqqani network, that the US contends are taking shelter in Pakistan's tribal areas and mount attacks in neighbouring Afghanistan.

But Rehman dismissed as "outrageous" the claim that Pakistan is harbouring al-Qaida or other militants who intend to harm the US. She said Pakistan's army was working hard to combat the militants, including reporting 52 times to NATO in recent months when militants were spotted crossing into Afghan territory.

"Pakistan is maxed out on the international border with Afghanistan," she said.

"Sovereignty has privileges but also comes with responsibilities," countered Lute who called for Pakistan to step up its efforts and to cease "hedging its bets" by supporting the Afghan Taliban.

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