US supports investigation of NATO attack in Pakistan
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said they were "closely monitoring" reports that 24 Pakistani troops were killed in NATO helicopter attacks near the Afghan border, dpa reported.
In an unusual joint statement by the two key members of President Barack Obama's national security team Saturday, they offered "deepest condolences" for the deaths and said they "support fully NATO's intention to investigate immediately."
The pre-dawn attack occurred in Mohmand Agency, a Pakistani tribal district from where Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters often infiltrate into Afghanistan to target NATO-led forces.
In protest, Pakistani authorities halted NATO supplies into landlocked Afghanistan. US Ambassador Cameron Munter was summoned to Pakistan's Foreign Ministry to receive a formal protest.
The US statement said General John Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Clinton had each called their Pakistani counterparts.
"In their contacts, these US diplomatic and military leaders each stressed - in addition to their sympathies and a commitment to review the circumstances of the incident - the importance of the US-Pakistani partnership, which serves the mutual interests of our people," the statement said.
"All these leaders pledged to remain in close contact with their Pakistani counterparts going forward as we work through this challenging time."