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Pakistan, U.S. to solve the drone strikes issue, spokesman

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, Jan 5, IRNA -- Pakistan said Friday that it wants to resolve the issue of the American drone attacks in the country's through bilateral talks with the United States.

The statement came a day after U.S. spy aircraft carried two attacks in Waziristan tribal region and killed a senior Pakistani Taliban leader, Mulla Nazir and eight other people.

Mulla Nazir's had struck a peace deal with the Pakistani forces in 2007 and both sides are holding the agreement. However, the U.S. had been accusing him of sending his fighters to Afghanistan for attacks on foreign and Afghan forces.

Pakistan publicly opposes the American drone attacks but the U.S. has not hinted any change in the CIA-controlled drone operations.

"We consider the drone strikes totally unproductive, illegal and violative of Pakistan's territorial integrity," Foreign Ministry spokesman, Moazam Khan said.

He told weekly press briefing that Pakistan has time and again taken up the issue of drone strikes with the United States and hoped both sides will be able to resolve this issue bilaterally.

"We are also in touch with different organizations including the United Nations to brief them about Pakistan's position on the drone attacks," the spokesman said.

Khan said that the issue of drones has been raised at the highest level as Pakistan condemns the drone attacks.

When queried about the killing of Mullah Nazir in drone strike, the spokesman said he cannot confirm the death of the Taliban leader in the drone strike.

To a question, the spokesperson confirmed that Pakistan has released twenty six Taliban leaders to facilitate the reconciliation and peace process in Afghanistan.

"Pakistan attaches great importance to peace and stability in Afghanistan and is willing to facilitate the reconciliation process there".

He said Pakistan is hopeful that a conference of Pakistani and Afghan religious scholars will be held in Kabul this month and that concerned quarters are finalizing the date for the conference and Pakistani delegation will attend the moot.

About the visit of Afghan President Hamid Karzai to Islamabad, the spokesman said the invitation is there but no dates have yet been finalized.

**1771
Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 80485915



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