No more drone strikes during Taliban talks, US assures Pakistan

November 20, 2013

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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Special Advisor on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz.—File Photo
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Special Advisor on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz.—File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The United States has promised that it will not carry out any drone strikes in Pakistan during any peace talks with Taliban militants in the future, the Prime Minister's Special Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said Wednesday.

Briefing a session of the Senate's Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs in Islamabad, Aziz said a team of government negotiators was prepared to hold talks with former Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Hakimullah Mehsud on Nov 2, the day after he was killed in a US drone strike in North Waziristan.

Aziz said Mehsud had been sent a list of negotiators, and that the ex-TTP chief himself had added the names of two clerics to be part of the team.

However, Aziz said the peace process had been on hold since Mehsud's killing and that the negotiations had been badly affected by the Nov 1 drone strike.

The foreign affairs advisor said the US had assured that no drone strikes would be carried out during any peace talks. However, he did not clarify when the US had given this assurance.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had told reporters last week that the process of peace talks could not be taken forward unless drone attacks on Pakistani soil are halted.

Nisar had said that the drone attack that killed Mehsud 'sabotaged' the government's efforts to strike peace with anti-state militants.