Karzai urges Pakistan to reconsider Bonn boycott
Afghan President Hamid Karzai telephoned Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Tuesday to urge him to reconsider a boycott of the Bonn conference over a deadly NATO strike, officials in both countries said.
Karzai's deputy spokesman Siamak Herawi told AFP that Pakistan was an important participant in the conference aimed at bridging peace after 10 years of war against the Taliban, and expressed hope that they would ultimately attend.
"President Hamid Karzai called Prime Minister Gilani and officially asked the Pakistan government to participate in the Bonn conference," said Herawi.
"We regard Pakistan as an important country and are optimistic they will attend the Bonn conference".
Pakistan said it would skip the conference on Afghanistan after a NATO strike on Saturday killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the border.
Pakistan has already closed the Afghan border to NATO convoys, a lifeline for 140,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, ordered American personnel to vacate an air base reportedly used by CIA drones and ordered a review of the alliance.
Gilani's office issued a statement confirming that Karzai had asked the prime minister to reconsider, but gave no hint of an official rethink.
Gilani "said that Pakistan had been extending complete cooperation for peace and stability in Afghanistan" said the statement.
"However, he further added that how could a country whose own sovereignty and territorial integrity was violated from Afghan soil play such a constructive role?"
Earlier, Afghanistan's foreign ministry said it had not yet received an official confirmation that Pakistan would opt out of the meeting.
"Our Pakistani brothers should remember that Bonn is an Afghan conference, it will be chaired and led by Afghans," said foreign ministry spokesman Janan Mosazai.
A Pakistani government official earlier told AFP on condition of anonymity that the cabinet had decided not to attend the event over the crisis.
© 2011 AFP