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Pakistan: Drone Air Base To Be Vacated By United States

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By CHRIS BRUMMITT, Associated Press

ISLAMABAD (AP) � The U.S. ambassador to Pakistan says Washington is complying with Islamabad's demand to vacate an air base that has been used by American drones.

Pakistan gave the U.S. until Dec. 11 to vacate Shamsi air base in southwest Baluchistan province after NATO airstrikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

Ambassador Cameron Munter said in an interview with local TV on Monday that the U.S. is doing everything it can to vacate Shamsi by the deadline.

The move is not expected to significantly curtail U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan since the base was only used to service drones that had mechanical or weather difficulties.

The U.S. does not publicly acknowledge the drone program in Pakistan. But American officials have said privately that the strikes have killed many militants.

Pakistan wants to rebuild ties with the United States despite ongoing retaliation over deadly NATO airstrikes on its troops along the Afghan border, the country's prime minister told The Associated Press on Monday, stressing that he believes "it won't take long" to achieve a new relationship with the old ally.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's remarks indicate that Pakistan is looking for a way to restore some normalcy to ties with the United States following the Nov. 26 airstrikes, but wants to leverage the situation to try and reset the relationship in ways more beneficial to Pakistan.

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