Washington: The US on Monday welcomed Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani statement that he would like to rebuild relationship with the US following deterioration in bilateral ties after the recent NATO air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in a cross-border fire.
   
"We, of course, welcome Prime Minister Gilani's positive statements on the US-Pakistani  relationship," State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters at his daily news briefing.
   
He said from the very moments after cross border firing incident, the US has been clear that "this is a relationship that's vital to US national security interests".
   
“It's vital to Pakistan's national security interests; it's vital to the region's interests that we work together productively; and that we're committed to addressing the issues between us and moving forward," Toner said.
   
Responding to questions about Pakistan’s absence from the Bonn conference, Toner said the US has been pretty clear that it wanted Pakistan to be a part of this conference.
   
“They made the decision not to attend, but going forward, we're going to work with Pakistan as an essential partner in that region's future," he said.
     
He said it is "pretty clear" that it was in Pakistan's interest to participate in Bonn.
   
"Obviously there was this incident of a couple weeks ago now that led to the deaths of Pakistani soldiers. It was a terrible tragedy. There's an investigation under way," he said.
   
"We've been very clear all along that we, while expressing our deepest sympathies over this tragedy, are committed to this relationship and working to make it better at every level,” he said in response to a question.
   
Pakistan responded to the cross-border NATO air strike on two military border posts on November 26 by asking the US to vacate Shamsi airbase and closing all routes used to transport supplies to American and allied forces in Afghanistan.
   
The US has said it will vacate the Shamsi airbase in Balochistan, believed to be used by CIA- operated drones, by December 11 deadline set by Pakistan following the NATO strike that killed 24 of its soldiers.


(Agencies)