Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday strongly condemned American drone strikes in its tribal belt along the border with Afghanistan, describing them as "illegal" and a "total violation" of its sovereignty but said it intended to resolve all issues with the US through dialogue.

The Pakistan government has a clear policy that the US drone attacks are "illegal, a violation of international law and unacceptable", Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Khan told a weekly news briefing.

Khan was speaking hours after a US drone struck a compound in the lawless North Waziristan tribal region, killing 10 suspected militant. On Wednesday, four suspected militants were killed in another drone strike in the same area.

The back-to-back missile attacks came days after Pakistan failed to announce the reopening of supply routes for foreign forces in Afghanistan at a NATO Summit in Chicago.

Asked why Pakistan had not taken the issue of drone strikes to the UN if the attacks were a violation of the international law, Khan said, "We want to resolve the issue bilaterally."

However, he acknowledged that the option of approaching the UN or the International Court of Justice were open to Pakistan.

Both Pakistan and the US had acknowledged the importance of their relationship and the two sides want to solve their issues through negotiations, he said.

The two countries were discussing all issues "with the spirit and view" to find mutually acceptable solutions, he added.

"It is an important relationship and there is a mutual desire" to normalise ties as soon as possible, Khan said.

In response to another question, Khan said he was not aware where the US drones were taking off from.

Pakistan closed the NATO supply routes in November, when 24 of its soldiers were killed in an air strike carried out by US forces in Afghanistan.

It also forced American personnel to vacate Shamsi airbase, considered a hub for CIA operated drones.

After President Asif Ali Zardari was extended a last minute invitation to the NATO Summit in Chicago, it was widely expected that he would announce the reopening of the supply routes at the conference.

However, Pakistan and the US were unable to conclude a deal on the supply lines and President Barack Obama refused to hold a one-to-one meeting with Zardari.

Referring to the NATO conference that had focussed on Afghanistan, Khan said Pakistan had not attended the meet with any expectations with regard to its relations with the US.

President Zardari attended the Chicago conference because Pakistan was invited by NATO and its participation in the meet was to reaffirm that the country was committed to Afghanistan's security and stability, which were in the national interest of Pakistan, he said.

That was the "only objective" for attending the Chicago conference, he said.

Asked about Pakistan's decision to allow the crossing of four containers to Afghanistan, Khan said they had contained diplomatic cargo.

Bilateral ties suffered another blow yesterday, when US lawmakers criticised a Pakistani court's decision to give a 33-year prison term to a doctor who had helped the CIA in efforts to track Osama bin Laden before he was killed in an American military raid last year.


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