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Pak leadership endorses Zardari participation in NATO Summit

Islamabad: Pakistan`s top civil and military leadership today endorsed President Asif Ali Zardari`s participation in a crucial NATO Summit in Chicago and directed officials to conclude negotiations with the US on ending a nearly six-month blockade of supplies for foreign troops in Afghanistan.

The Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC), the country`s highest decision-making body on security issues, welcomed the NATO Secretary General`s "unconditional invitation" to the President to attend the summit to be held during May 20-21.

"The DCC fully endorsed the visit of the President for the summit," said an official statement.

The meeting of the DCC, which was chaired by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, "authorised officers of relevant ministries (and) departments to conclude the ongoing negotiations on the new terms and conditions for resumption of Ground Lines of Communications" or NATO supply routes, the statement said.

These negotiations should be conducted on the basis of recommendations adopted during a joint session of parliament that reviewed Pakistan-US ties, the DCC decided.

The new terms and conditions for reopening the supply routes "should incorporate a clause, as recommended by parliament, to the effect that only non-lethal cargo would be allowed to transit through Pakistan to Afghanistan", the statement said.

Pakistan closed the supply routes after a cross-border NATO air strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November.

Islamabad and Washington have struggled to put their relationship on an even keel since then, largely due to Pakistan?s insistence on an unconditional apology for the NATO attack.

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