News Too early to comment on NATO raid: Pentagon

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Mar 5, 2010
WASHINGTON: Refusing to comment on Pakistan''s allegations that NATO''s cross border fire that killed 24 soldiers over the weekend was an "act of aggression", the Pentagon today said that it is premature to articulate the facts of this incident.

"I would not comment on that specifically about who made that comment (on act of aggression), but as I said we regret the incident, we have expressed our condolences and we would let the investigation unfold," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters.

"No one at this point has a complete narrative on what happened. I think it is important that we wait for the investigation to be occur," Little said referring to the US CENTCOM appointment of a top US military official to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident, in which governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan have been asked to participate.

Little said he is not aware if Pakistan has agreed to participate in the investigation.

International Assistance Security Force (ISAF) of Afghanistan would also provide its own initial assessment of the incident and input to the investigation, which has been asked to be completed by December 23.

No decision has been made yet on making the results of this investigation public, said Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt John Kirby.

"I think, it is premature to articulate the facts of this incident. It is important to review all the data available, to talk to the personnel involved and let the investigation unfold," Little said when asked about comments made by unnamed US and Afghan officials that NATO forces hit back only after shots were fired from the Pakistani side or that was the case of mistaken identity.

"No one has the complete story at this stage," Little asserted.

Responding to questions about the decision of Pakistan to not to attend the Bonn conference next month, Little hoped that Pakistan would still be able to attend it.

"Bonn conference is an important international security conference for Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is an Afghan chaired conference. We believe it is critical that countries in the region and have interest in Afghanistan attend. We certainly hope that Pakistan will attend the conference," he said.

"We understand Pakistan''s concerns over the recent incident. We look forward to trying to resolve the differences that we have. (US) relationship (with Pakistan) is critical)," Little said.

While the NATO supply route to Afghanistan going through Pakistan have been closed after the incident, the Pentagon official said he has not heard of any closure of the Pakistani air space for the US.

The incident has no impact on US operations inside Afghanistan he said.

"War efforts continue in Afghanistan. We do have adequate supplies and we do look forward to finding ways to resolving our differences with Pakistan and developing further cooperation down the road," he said.