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Suspected U.S. Drone Strike in Pakistan Kills Two

April 30 (Bloomberg) -- A missile strike, suspected to have originated from a U.S. drone, killed two people and injured three in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal region, said Kifayatullah Durrani, a spokesman for the administration of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Yesterday’s strike came two days after talks aimed at breaking a five-month diplomatic dispute between the U.S. and Pakistan broke down in Islamabad, according to the New York Times.

The U.S. relationship with Pakistan has been frayed by tensions including U.S. drone missions over the country, which American officials say is vital to helping Afghan security forces gain control of the country so U.S. and allied troops can withdraw by the end of 2014.

Other irritants include the U.S. decision to kill Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad a year ago without first informing the Pakistani government and the killing of two Pakistanis by a Central Intelligence Agency contractor.

There is mutual mistrust between the U.S. and Pakistan, Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the U.S., said in an interview with CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” broadcast yesterday.

Pakistanis say that the U.S. “has repeatedly betrayed Pakistan, has left it in the lurch. It came to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan and then left in a hurry, without caring about the fallout for Pakistan. It promised assistance and withdrew it,” Haqqani said.

Nuclear Weapons

Americans say that “Pakistanis cannot be trusted and that Pakistan pursues a nuclear weapons program, which they promised at one time that they wouldn’t do, that Pakistan is involved in supporting militants and terrorists,” Haqqani said.

The security relationship has been virtually frozen since Nov. 26, when U.S. helicopters from Afghanistan fired on border posts, killing 24 Pakistani soldiers. In protest, Pakistan closed its border to the resupply of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and suspended much military and intelligence cooperation.

Pakistan told the Obama administration in March that it no longer will permit U.S. drones to use its airspace to attack militants and collect intelligence on al-Qaeda and other groups, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the drone program is classified.

The drone program, which President Barack Obama acknowledged publicly for the first time in January, has been part of U.S. counter-terrorism strategy in Pakistan since 2004, officials and counter-terrorism experts say.

The Obama administration authorized 53 drone attacks in 2009 and 117 in 2010, compared with 35 in 2008 under former President George W. Bush, according to Bill Roggio, a U.S. military analyst whose website, the Long War Journal, maintains a database of the campaign.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anwar Shakir in Peshawar, Pakistan at ashakir1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net

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