NATO's Rasmussen "regrets" Pakistan soldier deaths
NATO's top official on Monday said he regretted the killing by NATO troops of three Pakistani soldiers in a botched cross-border strike and asked Pakistan to reopen a border crossing which NATO uses to supply its troops in Afghanistan, DPA reported.
Tensions flared between NATO and Pakistan last week after NATO troops based in Afghanistan attacked militants on the Pakistani side of the border. Pakistan closed a main border point after NATO forces killed three Pakistani soldiers by mistake.
"I expressed my regrets for the incident last week in which Pakistani soldiers lost their lives, and I expressed my condolences to the families," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after early morning talks with Pakistani Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
NATO and Pakistan are both struggling to contain militants on either side of the border with Afghanistan, but their cooperation has been riven with mistrust.
Some NATO states fear that Pakistan's intelligence agency is giving covert support to the militants, while Pakistan deeply resents US missile strikes launched from Afghanistan into its territory.
"Obviously this incident was unintended. Obviously we have to make sure we improve coordination between our militaries," Rasmussen acknowledged.
NATO and Pakistan have launched a joint inquiry into the incident.
Rasmussen said that he had also raised the question of the closed border crossing with Qureshi. Eighty per cent of the supplies used by NATO in Afghanistan pass through Pakistan.
"I expressed my hope that the border will be opened for supplies as soon as possible. The foreign minister committed work on that, for which I am very grateful," Rasmussen said.