Islamabad (AFP) Sept 3, 2010
The United States has apologised to Pakistan over "mistreatment" of a Pakistani military delegation at a US airport this week, the Pakistani defence ministry said Friday.
US undersecretary of state for defence Michelle Flournoy apologised during a telephone call to Pakistan's top defence ministry official, Syed Athar Ali, the ministry said in a statement.
Flournoy "apologised for the mistreatment meted out to Pakistan's military delegation at the Dulles airport, Washington", the statement said.
Pakistan had ordered the delegation to return from Washington to protest "unwarranted" airport security checks imposed after the delegation was invited to a meeting at the US military Central Command.
"Syed Athar Ali expressed serious concern over the incident and emphasised the need for an institutionalised mechanism where such like incidents are averted," the statement said.
"Ms. Flournoy assured secretary defence that all necessary measures will be institutionalised after mutual consultations to avoid recurrence of any untoward incident in future."
The nine members of the delegation were about to fly to Tampa, Florida from Dulles when they were pulled off the plane and questioned for over two hours.
The United Airlines flight crew had become concerned over a remark by one of the officers, a Pakistani official told AFP on Wednesday.
The Pakistanis showed security authorities their passports and letters of invitation to the conference at Central Command, but by the time they were released they had missed their flight, the official said.
Washington sees Pakistan as integral to winning the war in Afghanistan, as Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked insurgents targeting coalition forces roam the mountainous region dividing the two countries.
Pakistan receives more than one billion dollars a year from Washington for its help in fighting the Islamist militants.
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