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Pakistan agrees to re-engage with U.S., sets conditions

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 12:28 PM EDT, Fri April 13, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Pakistan's prime minister promises to follow the guidelines "in letter and spirit"
  • NEW: Washington says it looks forward to discussing the recomendations
  • Pakistan wants U.S. drone attacks and other covert operations on its soil to end
  • Relations hit a low after a NATO airstrike in November killed 24 Pakistani soldiers

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan's parliament set out new guidelines for its relations with the United States, as it agreed to re-engage with Washington after months of tension over deadly airstrikes on a Pakistani border post by NATO forces and other issues.

A list of recommendations approved by lawmakers includes a call for an immediate end to U.S. drone attacks and no further use of Pakistan as a transportation route for weapons into Afghanistan.

Future relations with the United States are to be based on mutual interest, Parliament Speaker Raza Rabbani said, as he read out the list to lawmakers. In addition, no overt or covert operations will be allowed on Pakistani soil and no private security companies or operatives will be permitted in Pakistan, he said.

Foreign countries will not be allowed to establish bases in Pakistan, Rabbani said.

The recommendations were drawn up by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, a group of 18 lawmakers responsible for reviewing relations with the United States, NATO and ISAF.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani told lawmakers that his government would work to implement the resolution "in letter and spirit." But in Washington, the U.S. State Department greeted the demands coolly.

"We respect the seriousness with which parliament's review of U.S.-Pakistan relations has been conducted," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement issued Thursday afternoon. "We seek a relationship with Pakistan that is enduring, strategic, and more clearly defined. We look forward to discussing these policy recommendations with the government of Pakistan and continuing to engage with it on our shared interests."

Relations between Pakistan and the United States hit a new low after NATO airstrikes on November 26 killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the Pakistani-Afghan border.

The deaths added to the anger already felt by Pakistanis over the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden at a compound in Pakistan last May, and continued American drone strikes on targets in the nation.

Following the deadly border airstrikes, the Pakistani government shut down the two NATO supply routes in the country, asked the United States to vacate an air base on its territory and boycotted a conference about the future of Afghanistan.

U.S. President Barack Obama expressed hope last month that the two nations could arrive at a "balanced approach" to relations as he met with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in South Korea.

The talks were the highest profile meeting between the two countries since the November airstrikes.

Obama said then that his expectation was that "we can achieve the kind of balanced approach that respects Pakistan's sovereignty but also respects our concerns with respect to our national security and our needs to battle terrorists who have targeted us in the past."

Gilani expressed appreciation that Obama had acknowledged the need to respect Pakistani sovereignty and said his government was committed to fighting against extremism.

He also said it was important to maintain stability in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

An investigation into the lethal NATO airstrikes in November by Brig. Gen. Stephen Clark on behalf of the United States concluded that Pakistan provoked NATO forces and that distrust between the two parties led to the firefight.

Pakistan disputed the findings, saying Clark's report was factually incorrect.

There has been a sharp drop in the number of drone attacks in Pakistan since the airstrikes.

U.S. officials rarely discuss the CIA's drone program in Pakistan, though privately they have said that the covert strikes are legal and an effective tactic in the fight against extremists.

CNN's Nasir Habib, Aliza Kassim and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

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