President Obama telephones Pakistan’s Zardari

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and the United States agreed to take steps to repair ties as President Barack Obama telephoned his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday, Islamabad said.

By (AFP)

Published: Thu 23 Jun 2011, 1:33 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 10:41 PM

Relations between the two countries, wary at the best of times, deteriorated sharply after US Navy SEALs found and killed Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad on May 2.

“The two leaders agreed to take appropriate steps to repair the ties between the two countries on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit,” the Pakistani presidency said in a statement.

The bin Laden raid humiliated the Pakistani military and invited allegations of incompetence and complicity, while Washington has increasingly demanded that Islamabad take decisive action against terror networks in the tribal badlands on the border with Afghanistan.

“President Obama appreciated Pakistan’s efforts in the fight against militancy,” the statement said.

“President Zardari said that the fight against extremism was Pakistan’s own and it had to fight it to the finish in its own national interest”.

The leaders also “agreed to have regular contacts and interaction at appropriate levels for the resolution of issues”.

Pakistan has come under mounting American pressure to open a ground offensive in the border tribal district of North Waziristan, considered the premier bastion of Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants and a target for most of the US drone strikes.

But Lieutenant General Asif Yasin Malik, the corps commander supervising all operations in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, recently said the army would undertake an operation when it wanted to.

Many analysts see the drone strikes as compounding pressure on Pakistan to take action.

But the strikes are hugely unpopular among the general public, who are deeply opposed to the government’s alliance with Washington, but US officials say the missile strikes have severely weakened Al-Qaeda’s leadership.

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