Petraeus regrets ISAF air strike on Pak soldiers in telephone call to Kayani

Islamabad, Oct 2 (ANI): Following the blockage of a key supply route for US-led forces in Afghanistan by Pakistan, ISAF Commander in Afghanistan General David H Petraeus telephoned Pakistan Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and regretted the cross-border NATO strike that killed three Pakistani troops.

"International Security Assistance Force Commander General Petraeus called (army chief) General Kayani and expressed his sincere regrets over the death of Pakistani soldiers," the Dawn quoted Patrick Ryder, US military spokesman in Pakistan, as saying.

The three Pakistani army men were killed in an early morning raid on Thursday, in an air strike by NATO helicopters at a military post, 200 metres inside the Pakistani border in Kurram Agency.

This was their fourth aerial violation of Pakistani territory in less than a week, but the first in which soldiers were killed. Reacting to the incident, Pakistan had suspended supply convoys along the Khyber Pass route, which links Peshawar in Pakistan with Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan, and lodged a protest with the NATO command in Brussels, demanding an apology.

Ryder further said the US remained committed to sharing all information related to the incident with the Pakistani military as part of its efforts to investigate the incident.

Meanwhile, Pakistani military commanders have revealed that high-level contacts are taking place to defuse the rising tensions. "Both sides are communicating and conveying their positions," an official confirmed.

These contacts have clearly helped lower the fury over the aerial incursions into the tribal areas of Pakistan, as sources said that NATO supplies would be restored after things cleared up.

"There was no closing of Khyber Pass route as such. The movement of the convoys was stopped temporarily in view of growing resentment over the aerial attacks and the resulting threat to their security," an official said, in a clearly rehashed position on the issue.

As about 80 per cent of Nato's supplies transit through Pakistan, which is the most convenient route for its troops, it is believed that the temporary stoppage was meant to remind the US how much it depended on the Asian nation for sustaining its military operations in Afghanistan.

According to analysts, the Shikarpur attack on oil tankers carrying fuel for NATO forces in Afghanistan was just an indication of what could happen if Pakistan were to stop providing security to the convoys. (ANI)

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