Predator drone launching Hellfire missile. (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

After Thursday’s full day of diplomatic meetings in Washington on the ongoing US-Pakistan crisis, the US killed another 25 people in North Waziristan when four missiles were fired from two drones. News of this latest strike comes as Pakistan’s Express Tribune reports on a potential route to ending drone strikes that was brought up in Wednesday’s meeting between US and Pakistani military leaders in Rawalpindi.

Dawn described the diplomatic meetings Thursday, which took place at the US State Department in Washington:

US and Pakistani diplomats spent Thursday trying to redefine a relationship that threatens to spin out of control if not handled properly. Statements by both US and Pakistani military chiefs since Wednesday, weighed heavily on the talks in Washington that aim at setting the agenda for next month’s strategic dialogue.

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“The two sides are seeking ways to sort out differences and find strategic convergences,” said [Pakistan's Ambassador to the US] Mr [Hussain] Haqqani of the diplomatic effort to keep the troubled relationship on track.

The two delegations had a quiet lunch after the first round and then [Pakistani Foreign Secretary] Mr [Salman] Bashir started bilateral meetings with Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Thomas Nides, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake and Under-secretary William Burns. He is also expected to meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton later in the evening.

It was late evening Washington time when the latest drone attack was reported, so it very well could have taken place during the meeting between Clinton and Bashir.

Reuters describes the attack:

Two U.S. pilotless aircraft fired four missiles into a house in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region on the Afghan border on Friday killing 25 militants, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

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A Pakistani intelligence official in the region who declined to be identified said the house was being used as a militant hideout.

“They have surrounded the area and are not allowing anybody to go there,” the intelligence official said, referring to militants.

Twenty-five bodies had been recovered from the rubble and three women were among those killed, he said.

More details, including possible “collateral damage”, come from BBC:

Missiles were fired on a large compound in the town of Spinwam, but five women and four children in a nearby house were also killed.

Meanwhile, the Express Tribune claims that in Wednesday’s meeting between US Joint Chiefs Chair Mike Mullen and Pakistan’s Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Mullen outlined a route to the US ending drone strikes:

The United States has linked the halting of the drone campaign in the tribal belt with the Pakistan military launching a full-scale operation against the influential Afghan insurgent group, the Haqqani network, allegedly based in North Waziristan.

US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen told Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani during marathon talks in Rawalpindi on Wednesday that the CIA-led Predator strikes would continue until Pakistan eliminates Haqqani network from its the tribal region, The Express Tribune has learnt.

Of course, this is unlikely to happen:

“Our position is absolutely clear that the operation in North Waziristan will be launched only if it is in the national interest,” said a security official, who requested not to be identified.

More diplomatic talks are planned for today, this time to be held at Pakistan’s Embassy in Washington. Will the US military conduct yet another strike tonight to emphasize to the diplomats that the military controls when and where strikes will be carried out?