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US, Pakistan Discuss Allegations US Troops Crossed Pakistan's Borders - 2004-05-27

Pakistani and U.S. military officials have met to discuss alleged incursions by U.S. troops from Afghanistan into Pakistan.

Pakistan says U.S. forces made at least two incursions this month into its tribal region along the Afghan border.

About 20,000 U.S. troops are deployed in Afghanistan, fighting an insurgency against the Afghan transitional government.

Some Afghan militants, including members of the al-Qaida network and remnants of Afghanistan's former Taleban regime, are believed to be hiding on the Pakistani side of the border.

Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan said earlier this month that U.S. forces crossed into Pakistan while hunting alleged militants and said Islamabad had lodged a formal protest with U.S. authorities.

"We have requested the U.S. authorities to conduct an inquiry into the matter, and share the results of this inquiry with us," he said.

Neither side released details of the outcome of Thursday's talks, held near the alleged border incursions. But Pakistan's military says the discussions were informal, involving mid-level officers, and dealt with cooperation between the two sides in tracking down suspected militants.

Pakistan, which earlier this year conducted a series of military operations aimed at flushing out foreign fighters, has tried to get the alleged militants to surrender in exchange for amnesty.

Pakistan's decision to negotiate for surrender initially sparked some criticism from the Afghan side of the border.

But speaking Wednesday, U.S. military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Tucker Mansager says the U.S. leadership has confidence in Pakistan's commitment to ending cross-border insurgent attacks.

"The end objective on both sides is the same, and that is the elimination of terrorism, whether that is by political means or whether it is by military means," he said.

Officials with Afghanistan's transitional government spent much of last year criticizing Pakistan for doing little to root out insurgents sheltering in its territory. But in past months the Afghan government has spoken of improved cooperation on this issue.

Top Afghan security adviser Zalmay Rasoul told reporters earlier this week that Pakistani pressure has caused increasing numbers of militants hiding in Pakistan to flee back into Afghanistan.