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Pakistani FM says US Gave No Warning of Suspected Missile Strike


Pakistan's foreign minister says officials were not warned about a suspected U.S. missile strike that occurred hours after the top U.S. commander said the United States would respect Pakistan's sovereignty. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from Islamabad.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters in Islamabad that Admiral Mike Mullen had given a clear commitment to Pakistan's sovereignty in meeting with Pakistan officials.

Hours after the meetings, locals in Pakistan's South Waziristan tribal region reported missiles fired from a suspected U.S. drone aircraft killed at least five people. Local media reports said the target was a suspected militant camp and some of the dead were foreigners.

Qureshi said the government had not been informed about a missile strike beforehand.

"Now if there was an attack later in the night, that means there is some sort of an institutional disconnect on their side and if so, they will have to sort it out," he said.

Pakistani officials have protested what they say have been violations of the secretive terms of engagement for U.S. strikes on Pakistani territory. In particular, officials have denounced a raid by U.S. commandoes earlier this month. The military said it would protect Pakistan's sovereignty at all costs.

But in recent days political leaders have toned down their criticisms and Foreign Minister Qureshi said the government is committed to remaining engaged with the United States in fighting terrorism.

"There are people who genuinely fear that these organizations - al Qaida and elements of Taliban - are threatening them in mainland U.S. and other European places," Qureshi noted. "Now we as friends and allies have to understand their concern and address their concern. At the same time they have to understand that our strategy is not just purely military."

Qureshi said Pakistan's President Asif Zardari and other top officials are expected to visit the United States next week for meetings with U.S. officials, including President George W. Bush.

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