Pak, US reiterate need for trust to counter terrorists

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Islamabad, Apr.7 (ANI): Pakistani and American officials on Tuesday jointly reiterated that there was a need for trust between both countries to counter the al Qaeda and the Taliban threat.

Visiting US Special Envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard C Holbrooke, and Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen told reporters here that they had fruitful meetings with the Pakistani leadership,including President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, and added that they taken cognizance of Islamabad's objections on alleged drone attacks mounted by the United States on suspect terrorists and terror hideouts in Pakistan's tribal badlands.

The visiting American team was responding to Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi's complaint about American missile strikes on Pakistani soil.

'We can only work together if we respect each other and trust each other,' Qureshi said during a joint news conference.

It was a sentiment also echoed by Admiral Mullen, who said he was committed to improving the nations' relationship to the point where there is a 'surplus of trust.'

The Pakistan Foreign Minister further said that Islamabad has 'red lines' that should not be crossed, but would only specify its objection to any sort of US ground operation on its territory when asked to elaborate.

Asked about whether the US could simply hand over Predator drones to the Pakistanis so they could carry out the strikes, Admiral Mullen did not directly answer, but said the Americans were eager to share counter-insurgency techniques and lessons with Pakistan.

Holbrooke said the countries face a common challenge and task.

"We have had a long and complicated history, our two countries,' he said. 'We cannot put the past behind us, but we must learn from it and move forward," Holbrooke said.

"Pakistan is committed in eliminating extremism from the society, for which it needs unconditional support by the international community in the fields of education, health, training and provision of equipment for fighting terrorism," President Asif Ali Zardari said in a statement after meeting the envoys.

Zardari also urged the use of negotiations to resolve some tensions with the militants, something the US is considering.

"Military action is only one aspect of the solution," a joint statement said.

The envoys' visit also comes just days after Hakimullah Mehsud, a deputy to Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, warned that the group would carry out two suicide bombings per week in Pakistan unless the US stops the missile strikes. Pakistan is battling Islamist militants for its survival, Pakistani leaders told a visiting U.S. envoy who urged Pakistan to eliminate militant enclaves on the Afghan border.

Holbrooke and Admiral Mullen have called for effective action to eliminate militant strongholds on northwestern Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.

Holbrooke and Admiral Mullen are due in India later on Tuesday. (ANI)

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