China lends support to Pakistan after NATO attack

BEIJING - China gave its backing to Islamabad on Monday after a NATO attack killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at a post near the Afghan border, saying it was “deeply shocked” and urging countries and organisations to respect Pakistan’s independence.

By (Reuters)

Published: Mon 28 Nov 2011, 10:21 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 12:28 AM

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi “stressed that China will continue to firmly support Pakistan’s efforts to defend its national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity” during a telephone call on Monday with his Pakistani counterpart, Hina Rabbani Khar, the state news agency Xinhua reported.

Yang’s comments echoed earlier comments by a spokesman from China’s Foreign Ministry, Hong Lei, who said that “China is deeply shocked by these events, and expresses strong concern for the victims and profound condolences to Pakistan”.

Pakistan has reacted with fury over NATO’s cross-border air attack at the weekend that could undermine U.S. efforts to wind up the war in Afghanistan.

“Countries and international organisations should respect Pakistan’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, Yang said, according to the Xinhua report. “This serious incident should be thoroughly investigated and be handled properly.”

Pakistan has been trying to move closer to Asian powerhouse China as ties with the United States have suffered.

China and Pakistan call each other “all-weather friends” and their close ties have been underpinned by long-standing wariness of their common neighbour, India, and a desire to hedge against U.S. influence across the region.

NATO described the killings as a “tragic unintended incident” and said an investigation was under way. A Western official and an Afghan security official who requested anonymity said NATO troops were responding to fire from across the border.

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