US unmoved by Bilawal apology demand for NATO strike

Washington: Two days after Pakistan`s ruling PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari demanded an American apology for a deadly NATO strike in his country, the US has said it does not have anything new to offer on the issue over which it has already expressed its "deep regret".

"I wouldn`t have anything new to offer on that beyond what we have said, which we deeply regret the incident. We have thoroughly investigated it. We shared the results of the that investigation with the Pakistanis," Ben Rhodes, US Deputy National Security Advisor, said at Foreign Press Centre here.

His comments came in response to a question on Bilawal`s demand that US President Barack Obama "show some courage" and apologise to Pakistan for a cross-border strike by NATO from Afghanistan that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last year.

"We believe there`s a basis for us to move forward and move beyond that particular incident, to take steps to make sure that that doesn`t happen again, to be respectful of Pakistani sovereignty and to be in, frankly, better communication in that areas so that we don`t see repeated incidents on the border," he said.

Responding to another question, Rhodes said a bilateral meeting between Obama and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari was never planned on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Chicago.

"On the matter of a bilateral meeting, the President didn`t host any formal bilateral meetings except for the one with (Afghan) President (Hamid) Karzai, given the fact that there was a very busy NATO summit schedule. So it was always our intention to really focus his time on these multilateral meetings," he said.

Rhodes said Obama`s meeting with Karzai was a priority as Afghanistan was the focus of the summit. Obama, however, was able to meet a handful of leaders, including Zardari, on the margins of the summit, he added.