WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has given mixed signals to the demand by Pakistan’s Parliament for an end to drone attacks as part of proposed new terms of engagement with the US, saying Washington won’t enter into an arrangement that compromises American national security interests.

“I’m not going to comment on any intelligence matter. That would not be appropriate,” she told CNN in response to a question about US agreeing to changes in its drone campaign against militant targets inside Pakistani territory that might hurt American security interests.

“I can assure you that the Obama Administration will not enter into any agreement that would be to the detriment of the national security of our country,” Clinton said. “I think this President has demonstrated conclusively that he’s ready to take the tough decisions when America’s security is at stake.”

The United States regards the drone strikes as crucial in its ant-terror strategy. With relations between the terror war allies at historic lows, a parliamentary commission last week unveiled long-awaited recommendations, including an end to US drone strikes and an apology for NATO air raid that killed 24 Pakistani troops.

Agencies add: The State Department said Monday a top US diplomat would head this week to Pakistan to promote cooperation between the war partners as the parliament in Islamabad reviewed the troubled relationship.

Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides will visit Islamabad on Wednesday (today) as parliament winds up its debate on recommendations for the US-Pakistan relationship, which has been rocked by multiple crises for months.

The trip comes amid a gradual resumption of dialogue, including President Barack Obama’s meeting with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on March 27 on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in Seoul.

“We look forward to continuing discussions with the government of Pakistan on matters of mutual concern, such as security; peace and stability in Afghanistan; and economic development,” a State Department statement said.

“As President Obama said before his meeting with Prime Minister Gilani, we respect the work of the parliament and believe it is important for us to have candid dialogue to work through these issues going forward,” it said.

US lawmakers voiced fury in May last year when US forces killed the world’s most-wanted man Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

Pakistan in turn questioned the relationship and closed its Afghan border to NATO supplies in November after an air strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. Obama voiced regret for the deaths but stopped short of apologising.

Pakistan’s parliament is debating a series of recommendations before a potential reopening of the border, including demands for a US apology, an end to drone strikes deep into Pakistani territory and taxes on NATO convoys.

Nides, who is heading to Pakistan after a stop in Jordan, will meet senior officials including Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, the State Department said.

General James Mattis, the head of US Central Command, and General John Allen, the US commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan, visited Pakistan last month in the first such trip since the border incident.