End drone strikes, remove mistrust
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari Saturday reiterated demand for ending US drone attacks on militants in its tribal areas and called for removing a "trust deficit" with the United States.
Zardari's remarks came after talks with US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman, who arrived in the Pakistani capital on Friday for meetings with top officials.
"They discussed bilateral relations, the fight against militancy, the regional situation, drug trafficking and drone attacks," presidential spokesman Senator Farhatullah Babar told reporters.
Zardari called for an end to the drone attacks, terming them counterproductive in the fight against militancy and in the battle of winning hearts, Babar said.
Zardari said "the goal of establishing a long-term, sustained and durable Pakistan-US equation would remain elusive until the issue of trust deficit was addressed in an effective manner".
Attacks by unmanned US aircraft are deeply unpopular in Pakistan, which says they violate its sovereignty and fan anti-US sentiment, but American officials are said to believe they are too important to give up.
Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf also held talks with Grossman and said his country regarded its relations with the United States as "very important", and that Pakistan valued it as a major development partner.
Grossman had said future relations between Pakistan and the United States should be based on market access and trade, it said.
A statement issued by the US embassy in Islamabad said Grossman had also held talks with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Army Chief Ashfaq Kayani, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani and parliamentarians.