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Page last updated at 15:21 GMT, Friday, 13 June 2008 16:21 UK

Pakistan backs US inquiry offer

Pakistani men survey the site of a reported US air strike in Gora Prai on 11 June
A hillside appeared to have been stripped bare by fighting

Pakistani Foreign Minister Mehmood Qureshi has welcomed a joint investigation into a US air strike that Islamabad says killed 11 of its troops.

Mr Qureshi made his remarks before talks with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Paris.

Washington offered a joint inquiry with allies Pakistan and Afghanistan after the border incident late on Tuesday.

US forces say they were targeting pro-Taleban militants. Pakistan said its troops died in an "unprovoked act".

"My personal opinion is that a joint investigation would be useful," said Mr Qureshi, Reuters news agency reported.

Pakistan and Afghanistan map

He urged the US to co-operate more with Pakistan's military and said the deaths risked jeopardising his government's efforts to pacify the border region.

"These incidents do not help. We want to get the support of the local population."

Ms Rice and US Defence Secretary Robert Gates repeated US expressions of regret for the deaths of the soldiers on Friday.

Speaking after a meeting of Nato defence ministers in Brussels, Mr Gates tried to mend fences by saying it was important to give the new Pakistani government time to pursue its policy in the north-west.

"I can't emphasise enough how important a partner Pakistan is in dealing with terrorists," he said.

Diplomatic fallout

On Thursday, the US military issued video excerpts of the fighting on the Pakistan-Afghan border, between Pakistan's Mohmand province and Kunar in Afghanistan, during which Pakistan says its soldiers were killed.

The BBC's Nick Childs says the footage raised more questions than it provided answers.

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The Pentagon says the militants crossed from Afghanistan to Pakistan

He says the details may remain in dispute, but the fall-out from the incident has further soured an already difficult and sensitive relationship.

There have been incidents before, but this is rapidly turning into the most serious diplomatically, our correspondent says.

It comes just when there is increasing concern among US and Nato forces about Taleban fighters receiving sanctuary in Pakistan's volatile tribal areas.

Attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan are on the rise, which Nato and the US attribute to deals with militants over the border in Pakistan.

Last month, for the first time, more coalition soldiers were killed in Afghanistan than Iraq, said Mr Gates.

Eighteen soldiers were killed in Afghanistan compared with 16 in Iraq. Most of them were Americans.

Mr Gates urged fellow Nato members to come good on pledges to boost the alliance's military presence in Afghanistan.


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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
ABC Online Tension in Pakistan - 1 hr ago
Boston GlobeBombing strains US-Islamabad ties - 1 hr ago
New York Times Pakistan Angry as Strike by U.S. Kills 11 Soldiers - 2 hrs ago
Washington PostU.S., Pakistan at Odds Over Air Strike - 2 hrs ago
Miami HeraldUS strikes undercut efforts on Pakistani border - 3 hrs ago
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