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Panel seeks better coordination after Pakistani deaths

Protesters chant anti-American slogans to condemn a U.S. attack on Pakistani soldiers this week on the Pakistan-Afghan border.
Protesters chant anti-American slogans to condemn a U.S. attack on Pakistani soldiers this week on the Pakistan-Afghan border.

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(CNN) -- A panel of officials from three nations agreed Wednesday to take steps to improve coordination in Afghanistan in the wake of U.S. troops accidentally killing two Pakistani soldiers this week, U.S. Central Command said.

The Tripartite Commission, which includes diplomats and military representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States, also reviewed developments in the Afghan border regions, Central Command said. Coalition forces are on the hunt there for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The group met at coalition headquarters at Bagram air base in Afghanistan.

A Pakistani army spokesman said two soldiers were killed Monday in Pakistan's North Waziristan region along the Afghan border.

Pakistani and U.S. soldiers were patrolling the border searching for remnants of al Qaeda and the former Taliban regime who escaped during the Afghan war, the spokesman said. Tribal members in northwest Pakistan -- largely uncontrolled by the Pakistan government -- are said to be harboring al Qaeda terrorists.

The commission "noted with regrets the incident" that resulted in the Pakistani deaths, Central Command said in a statement released from its headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa, Florida.

"Investigations of the incident are under way," the statement said. "The parties stressed the need for greater coordination to prevent recurrence of such incidents in the future. The commission decided to establish a three-way hotline between senior representatives of the three countries."

On Monday, "coalition forces on patrol in the vicinity of Orgun, in the Paktika Province of Afghanistan, were fired upon by several individuals," the command said. "Coalition air support was called and responded to the enemy forces that were identified and fleeing toward the Pakistani border. The incident resulted in the unfortunate and unintended engagement of Pakistani security forces in the area."

The commission will meet again in September in Pakistan.


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