No plan to end drone strikes in Pakistan: US officials
* US officials say they will work in coming weeks and months to find common ground with Pakistan, but wonít spare any suspected terrorist target
WASHINGTON: The White House has no intention to end CIA drone strikes against terrorists targets on Pakistani soil, US officials say, possibly setting the two countries up for diplomatic tensions after Pakistanís parliament unanimously approved new guidelines for the countryís troubled relationship with the United States.
US officials say they will work in coming weeks and months to find common ground with Pakistan, but if a suspected terrorist target comes into the laser sights of a CIA droneís hellfire missiles, they will take the shot.
It is not the first time the US has ignored Pakistanís parliament, which demanded an end to drone strikes in 2008. What is different now is that the Pakistani government is in a more fragile political state and can continue no longer its earlier practice of quietly allowing the US action while publicly denouncing it, Pakistani officials say.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the high stakes diplomatic jockeying.
Parliament approved recommendations intended to guide the government in its negotiations to reset the US relationship. The guidelines allow for the blockade on US and NATO supplies to be lifted. The lawmakers demanded a halt to CIA-led missile attacks but did not make that a prerequisite to reopening the supply lines.
The relationship between Pakistan and the US faltered after a series of incidents in 2011 that have damaged trust on both sides ó from the controversy over CIA security officer Ray Davis, who killed two Pakistanis and was later released, to the US Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May, without Pakistani permission. But the arguable nadir in relations came in November, when US forces returned fire they believed came from a Pakistani border post and killed 24 Pakistani troops.
Those incidents led to the ejection of US military trainers who had worked closely with Pakistani counterinsurgent forces, slowed CIA drone strikes, and joint raids and investigations by Pakistanís intelligence service together with the CIA and FBI. The border incident led to the shutdown of border supply lines into Afghanistan, more than doubling the cost of shipping in supplies for the war effort. ap