09/18/2008, 00.00
PAKISTAN - UNITED STATES
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Pakistan, U.S. at odds over anti-Taliban operations

by Qaiser Felix
Repeated incursions by the American army into Pakistani territory have "irritated" Islamabad, which has asked for "respect for national borders". A raid by a United States spy plane strikes a munitions depot, killing seven and wounding another three.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) - The dispute continues between Pakistan and the United States, over recent incursions by U.S. aircraft into Pakistani territory, in intelligence operations against sensitive Taliban targets on the border with Afghanistan.

During a meeting between high-level officials of the two countries, Islamabad asked for explanations of the recent U.S. military operations, and emphasized that it is no longer willing to "tolerate incursions". But a few hours later, an American spy plane executed a raid on a village near Angoor Adda, in south Waziristan, near the border with Afghanistan. During the operation, the unmanned aircraft dropped four missiles, one of which struck a home, killing seven people and wounding another three. According to American military sources, the raid struck a Taliban munitions depot.

The Pakistani foreign minister, Shas Mehmood Qureshi, warns that "all countries must respect the national sovereignty of others", and that these continual border violations "will not be good for the United States over the long term". For this reason, he expresses the hope for more "dialogue" with U.S. officials, and better coordination between the two armies.

Reassurances are coming from the American side: Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, says that the "national sovereignty" of the allied country will be respected, although this morning new attacks were launched, with incursions into Pakistani territory.

Yesterday's meeting included the commander of the U.S. forces, Admiral Mullen, and Pakistani prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, defense minister Ahmad Mukhtar, foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, and the head of Pakistan's army, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. Islamabad has reiterated that is no longer willing to tolerate "compromises on its territorial sovereignty", and that only the Pakistani army enjoys the right of carrying out "military operations within the nation's borders".

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