US Asks Pakistan to Join Bonn Talks

Washington, Nov 30 (IANS): The United States has joined Afghan President Hamid Karzai in urging Pakistan to change its mind about boycotting the international conference on Afghanistan's future in Bonn next Monday.

"We certainly urge Pakistan to participate in this conference. It's very important for the future of Afghanistan," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Tuesday when asked if Islamabad's decision triggered any US concerns.

"Pakistan, obviously, will play an important role in the future of Afghanistan, and we urge them to participate in the conference," he said.

At the State Department, spokesman Mark Toner also made a similar point saying, "we do think that it's important to note that this conference is about Afghanistan, about its future, about building a safer, more prosperous Afghanistan within the region."

"And so it's very much in Pakistan's interest to attend this conference," he said. "Seeing this on a continuum, Pakistan was obviously in Istanbul and pledged support for a strong, prosperous Afghanistan within the region."

"This is an important opportunity. It's also worth noting that there's still going to be 85 nations and 15 international organizations that are going to be in Bonn. So while we would like to have Pakistan there, we still think it'll be a valuable opportunity to talk about Afghanistan's future," Toner said.

"Do we want Pakistan to be involved in that future? Yes. Is it vital? Certainly, and we're going to work towards making sure that Pakistan is indeed involved as we move forward," he said.

Pakistani officials say they will not participate in the Bonn conference as a protest against last week's NATO airstrikes, which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers near the Afghan border Saturday.


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