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NATO wants to strengthen military dialogue with Pakistan

June 13, 2008

The Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), Jaap De Hoop Scheffer, met Paksitani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi at the sidelines of an international conference on Afghanistan held in Paris Thursday, June 12, 2008.

They discussed Wednesday's incident at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border where 11 Pakistani soldiers were killed reportedly in an American air strike.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels during the NATO Defence Ministers' meeting Thursday evening, Scheffer declined to comment on the border incident saying there were no ISAF forces involved and that the matter is under investigation.

NATO has around 50, 000 soldiers under its International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan.

"The Pakistani foreign minister and I agree that what we need with Pakistan is of course strengthening of military to military dialogue,'' Scheffer said mentioning the existence of the tripartite mission including Afghanistan, Pakistan and ISAF to discuss military matters.

"It is crystal clear that that boundary border presents problems because we have seen increase in people crossing the border and doing mischief in Afghanistan," he said adding that Pakistan is seeking cooperation to make that border less porous than it is at the moment.

Scheffer said he was in Islamabad last year and that he hopes to visit Pakistan again but did not mention any date for his trip.

Meanwhile, NATO Defence Ministers in their first meeting after the NATO Bucharest Summit in April will discuss developments in Afghanistan and Kosovo , where the 26-member Alliance has 15,000 troops under its KFOR mission, during their 2-day (Thursday and Friday) gathering here.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February.

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