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Clinton speaks with Pakistani PM regarding NATO strikes

By Reuters
Saturday, December 3, 2011 18:29 EDT
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Sec. of State Clinton in Islamabad via AFP
 
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Saturday, again offering U.S. condolences over the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers in NATO air strikes last week, the State Department said in a statement.

The attack sparked fury in Pakistan and complicated U.S.-led efforts to ease a crisis in relations with Islamabad, still seething at a secret U.S. raid in May that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and stabilize the region before foreign combat troops leave Afghanistan in 2014.

Clinton “once again expressed condolences to the families of the soldiers and to the Pakistani people for the tragic and unintended loss of life in Mohmand last weekend,” the State Department said in a brief statement.

“She reiterated America’s respect for Pakistan’s sovereignty and commitment to working together in pursuit of shared objectives on the basis of mutual interest and mutual respect.”

Clinton’s phone call came two days before an international conference in Germany on the future of Afghanistan – a conference Pakistan is boycotting because of the incident.

The United States and NATO have promised to investigate the incident, expressing regret at the deaths of Pakistani soldiers. But the White House has said it was premature to consider an apology when an investigation was still in its early stages.

(Editing by Peter Cooney)

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