NATO, Pakistan and Afghan military officials in border talks, Pakistani army says

February 8, 2012

In a sign that a months-long estrangement between the United States and Pakistan might be easing, NATO, Pakistani and Afghan military officials held talks Wednesday in hopes of better coordinating operations on the Afghan border, the Pakistani army said.

The announcement came on the same day that U.S.-fired drone missiles killed nine militants in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal region, according to security officials there. They said the dead included members of the Haqqani network, a group that launches frequent attacks against Western and Afghan forces across the Afghan border.

Drone strikes are widely unpopular here and a continuing source of strain between Pakistan and the United States. Recently, however, the on-and-off counterterrorism allies have been warily attempting to restore military and intelligence cooperation in the aftermath of American air attacks in November that accidentally killed 24 Pakistani troops at two border posts.

Pakistan retaliated by shutting down NATO supply routes into Afghanistan and also barred the United States from using one of its bases for CIA drone operations.

But in another sign of improved relations, Gen. James Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command, will meet with Pakistani Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani this month to discuss the U.S. investigation into the airstrikes, the New York Times and Associated Press reported.

Wednesday’s meeting, which also included representatives from the Afghan National Army and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, was described in the terse statement from the Pakistani army as part of a “tripartite engagement to discuss and improve various coordination measures on the Pak-Afghan border.”

A Pakistani parliamentary committee is conducting a review of the U.S.-Pakistan security relationship that is expected to impose tariffs on the NATO convoys and request prior notification of the Pakistani military before the U.S. launches drone strikes. Pakistan’s defense minister on Tuesday endorsed the tariff plan.

Richard Leiby is a senior writer in Post’s Style section. His previous assignments have included Pakistan Bureau Chief, and reporter, columnist and editor in Washington. He joined The Post in 1991.
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