KABUL, May 25: Nato in Afghanistan spoke out on Sunday against Pakistan’s moves to reach peace deals with militants on its side of the border.

Visiting US congressman also said they were concerned that Islamabad’s peace talks with militants could preclude a rise in attacks in Afghanistan, where 70,000 foreign soldiers are helping to fight a Taliban-led insurgency.

Nato spokesman Mark Laity urged Pakistan to avoid agreements that “put our troops and our mission under threat”, and said Islamabad must take the alliance into account when it makes such deals.

“They have a sovereign right to make agreements,” Laity said at a press conference, adding however, “We have a right to question if those agreements put our troops and our mission under threat.

“It is no real solution if trouble on one side of the Durand Line is merely transferred to the other side.”

Laity said Nato believed an increase in militant activity along the eastern border with Pakistan could only be attributed to a reduction in the Pakistani army’s efforts against militants because of the peace talks.

Afghan defence ministry spokesman Gen Mohammad Zahir Azimi told the same media briefing that Pakistan territory “should not be used to kill innocent people in Afghanistan”.

“Previous peace accords between Pakistan’s government and insurgents have shown that it was a golden time for insurgents -- they got equipped, they got ready and they launched operations against both governments,” he said.

Four Democratic lawmakers said after talks with President Hamid Karzai that they would raise concerns about the peace deals with militants during a visit to Islamabad.

“They are protected in their sanctuaries and yet they come into Afghanistan and take on the activities of terrorists,” said one of the lawmakers, Ben Nelson, a US Senator from Nebraska.

Nelson said the United States needed to focus on Afghanistan “a little more,” and this could include boosting its troop numbers as “Taliban and terrorists” arrive from across the border.

There was also a need to protect farmers in the opium-producing south so they could turn from growing opium poppies to cultivating food, he said.—AFP

Updated May 26, 2008 12:00am

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