US, Germany lead calls for Pakistan on Bonn boycott

KARACHI - German Chancellor Angela Merkel telephoned Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and expressed her personal and countrys solidarity and friendship with the people and Government of Pakistan. The German Chancellor expressed her condolences to the families of those who lost their lives during Nato/Isaf strikes against the border posts in Pakistan. Prime Minister thanked the German Chancellor and said he was touched by her sentiments. He said Pakistan valued the love and friendship of Germany. The Chancellor expressed her desire that Pakistans participation in the Bonn Conference was of utmost importance to Germany, stressing that Pakistan representation was essential for making the conference meaningful. Prime Minister said Pakistan held Germany in the highest esteem and attached highest importance to the peace, stability and sovereignty of Afghanistan. However, he said, keeping in view that the Afghan soil was used against Pakistan, both the cabinet and the government had decided that Pakistans attendance in the Bonn Conference was no longer possible. Gilani said Pakistan had endured the largest number of casualties in the war on terror and had rendered the greatest sacrifices in its endeavours to support and secure sovereign Afghanistan. Prime Minister said Pakistans public opinion was inflamed by the fact that the Afghan soil had been used against Pakistan, killing 25 innocent soldiers and injuring many others. The German Chancellor requested Gilani to reconsider Pakistans participation in the Bonn Conference, adding that Pakistans seat should not be left vacant. She insisted Pakistans Foreign Minister attend the conference. Prime Minister regretted that he would not be able to oblige the German Chancellor in this regard. The German Chancellor suggested Pakistans Ambassador to Germany be permitted to represent Pakistan in the conference. The Prime Minister said that since Germany and Pakistan had excellent relations in the past and also the German Foreign Minister was the first to express the solidarity with Pakistan and expressed condolences to the families who were killed in the Nato/Isaf attack, he would refer the matter to the Parliamentary Committee on National Security to take the decision. Prime Minister said after the parliamentary committees decision he would contact the German Chancellor. Agencies add: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led calls on Pakistan Wednesday to reconsider boycotting talks on Afghanistan, but stopped short of apologising for the deaths of 24 soldiers in Nato strikes. Clinton said she regretted Pakistans decision to boycott next weeks international conference on Afghanistan but hoped to secure Islamabads cooperation in future. Nothing will be gained by turning our backs on mutually beneficial cooperation. Frankly it is regrettable that Pakistan has decided not to attend the conference in Bonn, Clinton told a news conference in South Korea. I would express regret and hope that perhaps there can be a follow-up way that we can have the benefit of Pakistani participation in this international effort to try to work a stable, secure peaceful outcome in Afghanistan. Clinton stressed that US officials were making every effort to investigate what she called a tragic incident. What is most important I think is that we learn lessons from this tragedy because we have to continue to work together.

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