US, Pak to resume high-level military contacts

Islamabad: The United States and Pakistan were today set to resume high-level military contacts for the first time since a cross-border NATO air strike in the country`s tribal belt killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last year.

Gen James Mattis, head of the US Army`s Central Command, and Gen John Allen, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, will call on Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani today, a military spokesman said.

"It is the first high-level meeting after (the NATO air strike) and will focus on the inquiry into the incident and improvements in border coordination procedures," the spokesman said without giving details.

The meeting of the military officials is being held a day after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani held talks with US President Barack Obama on the margins of a nuclear security summit in Seoul. During the talks, Obama called for a balanced approach to bilateral ties that would respect Pakistan`s sovereignty while addressing the national security concerns of the US.

Gilani ordered a parliamentary review of Pakistan`s ties with the US and NATO after November`s air strike, which the American military has said was unintentional. The Pakistani military has rejected this stand and called for action against those responsible for the attack.

Pakistan closed all routes used to transport supplies to NATO and US forces in Afghanistan after the air strike and forced American personnel to vacate Shamsi airbase in Balochistan province, believed to be a hub for CIA-operated drones.

Pakistani lawmakers were set to debate wide-ranging recommendations for revamping ties with the US during a joint sitting of parliament but the session has been marred by protests and disruptions over political violence in the financial hub of Karachi.

The Parliamentary Committee on National Security has presented 40 recommendations for resetting Pakistan-US ties, including the imposition of a tax before the reopening of NATO supply routes.

The Defa-e-Pakistan Council, a conglomerate of over 40 hardline and extremist groups, has warned it will launch nationwide protests if the supply routes are reopened. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan has warned it will target parliamentarians if they recommend the reopening of the routes.