Lahore: Pakistan's national interests will be the basis for a decision on reopening the NATO supply routes to Afghanistan that were closed last year, President Asif Ali Zardari has said.

In a meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides at the Governor's House in Lahore on Wednesday evening, Zardari said the government will make a final decision on reopening the supply routes after parliamentarians’ debate recommendations made by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security. He told the visiting senior US diplomat that Pakistan's national interests will be the basis for the decision.

Pakistan had closed the supply routes after a cross-border NATO air strike in November killed 24 of its soldiers. The government subsequently ordered a review of Pakistan-US relations but the exercise has stalled due to reservations expressed by the main opposition PML-N.

During his meeting with Nides, Zardari expressed concern at US drone attacks, saying they went against the country' sovereignty. "Drone attacks are causing civilian casualties and also fuelling militancy," the President said. Pakistan-US relations should be based on mutual respect and mutual interest, he added.

Zardari said Pakistan attaches great importance to its relationship with the US as they have "mutual interests to pursue". He said the ongoing parliamentary review should be valued for being "lasting and fruitful". The two leaders also discussed the situation in Afghanistan.

Zardari said drug trafficking and financing of militants were among the major challenges that need to be tackled urgently. He said the international community and NATO and ISAF should address the issue of drugs and eliminate the funding of militants. A framework should be developed to attract multinationals to invest in Afghanistan and the region, Zardari said.

Nides said the US appreciates Pakistan's role in the war on terror and wants to restore multifaceted cooperation with it. Rebuilding trust and confidence between the two countries is essential for pursuing common objectives, he said.

Zardari arrived in Lahore on Wednesday on a four-day visit amidst a "boycott" by the PML-N government in Punjab. None of the ministers or officials of the provincial government came to the Lahore airport to receive the President. The president will leave on a private visit to India from Lahore on April 8. He is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over lunch before travelling to the Sufi shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer during the day-long visit.

PML-N spokesman Mushahidullah Khan said the Punjab government could not welcome Zardari as he is the Pakistan People's Party co-chairman. Asked whether the PML-N has any plan to protest at the Governor's House against power cuts and an increase in petroleum prices, Khan said his party believes in "peaceful demonstration".

Meanwhile, PML-N president Nawaz Sharif has returned to Lahore from Dubai while Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif is in London. Both leaders are not expected to meet Zardari.