WASHINGTON - The United States is willing to address Pakistan’s concerns and ‘find a middle ground’, in dealing with the guidelines set by Pakistani Parliament to rebuild Islamabad-Washington relations, the State Department said on Friday.
The deputy spokesman at the State Department, Mark Toner, said Washington was aware of the concerns raised by the parliamentary review and ready to engage with Pakistan on the guidelines and willing to address their concerns going forward and find a middle ground.
The spokesman said the US would be willing to have discussions with Pakistani officials on civilian cooperation as well as counterterrorism cooperation and security issues.
Pakistan’s Parliament Thursday unanimously approved the guidelines, which stress respect for Pakistani sovereignty and an immediate end to drone strikes the US carries out in the tribal areas to hit suspected militant targets.
Agencies add: On a question regarding the Pakistani demand to stop drone strikes, Toner declined to offer any comments and said he could not talk about intelligence matters from the podium. “You know I can’t talk about these issues,” he mumbled while excusing himself.
Toner ducked the questions about the possibilities of extending an apology to Pakistan. “I can’t talk about specific demands of Pakistani Parliament about apology on Salala. This is for senior officials on both sides to sit down and discuss,” he opined. “The US had engaged with Pakistan at high level in recent weeks and was ready to discuss these issues.”
“Some of the issues raised are not new for us but we are ready to listen to the concerns of Pakistan and try to find some middle ground,” he argued.
The acting assistant secretary of defence for public affairs and the Pentagon spokesman, George Little, said they had seen media reports but were yet to receive the proposals formally.
“We are looking forward to receiving these proposals and are ready to discuss the points raised in it with the government of Pakistan,” he observed.
When asked about the possibilities of accepting Pakistani demands of apology on the Salala attack and stopping weapons supply through Pakistani ground routes, he said, “It is hard to speculate what our position will be on each of these recommendations from the Pakistani Parliament.” When asked if the willingness to engage with Pakistan on contentious issues meant that the US was ready to give-in to some of the Pakistani demands, the Pentagon spokesperson declined to accept the presumption.
 “I’ will not characterise that our willingness to discuss means that we are ready to accept all Pakistani demands,” he clarified.