ISLAMABAD, May 24: The Foreign Office reiterated on Thursday its denunciation of drone attacks, but said that Pakistan’s desire for normalisation of ties with the United States remained unaffected.

“Let me also add here that the US is an important country and it is an important relationship for Pakistan and there is a mutual desire to normalise this relationship,” FO spokesman Moazzam Khan said at his weekly media briefing while responding to a question about drone attacks and negotiations on re-engagement.

“We strongly condemn the drone attacks. We regard them a violation of our territorial integrity. They are in contravention of international law. They are illegal, counter-productive and totally unacceptable,” he said.

The US has continued to pound militant targets in tribal areas with hellfire missiles from Predator drones, although the two countries are negotiating a parliamentary demand for cessation of the strikes.

The attacks, which analysts once feared could scuttle the re-engagement process, have not affected the talks. Other differences, including those over fee structure for using Pakistani territory for transportation of supplies for coalition forces in Afghanistan have, however, slowed down the dialogue.

(According to APP, the spokesman was asked why didn’t Pakistan take the issue to the UN if these attacks were in breach of the international law. He said: “We want to resolve the issue bilaterally, but of course all options are open.”

However, both Washington and Islamabad acknowledged the importance of their relationship and they wanted to solve their issues through negotiations.

Asked if he was aware from where the drones were taking off to carry out the attacks, the spokesman said he was unaware of it.)

Several drone attacks have taken place since parliament adopted guidelines for revised terms of engagement with the US in April. The US has also ignored similar calls from Pakistani parliament in the past for stopping the attacks.

However, the attacks temporarily suspended after the Nov 26 Salala incident which sent the troubled alliance into a tailspin.

AFRIDI CONVICTION: Reacting to statements from the US on Dr Shakil Afridi’s conviction, the spokesman called for respect for judicial process.

“I think we need to respect each other’s legal processes and judgments by the courts,” Moazzam Khan said.

UNION: The Foreign Office in effect endorsed a union plan between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, saying it was up to the two to decide. “Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are two brotherly countries and it is for them to decide as to what kind of arrangement they want to have,” the spokesman said.

Bahrain has been in the grip of successive anti-government protests since last year which have been often suppressed by force. The pro-democracy protests have been inspired by successful uprisings in other parts of the Arab world.

At the peak of protests Islamabad helped Manama recruit retired Pakistani soldiers and policemen to quell demonstrations.

The union plan has led to massive protests in Bahrain and a diplomatic standoff between Tehran, Riyadh and Manama.

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