June 16, 2008 / 1:39 AM / in 9 years

Peter MacKay calls for calm with Pakistan, Afghans

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay called on Sunday for calm and urged a diplomatic approach to growing tensions between Afghan and Pakistan officials.

<p>Canada's Defence Minister Peter MacKay speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa in this file photo from April 15, 2008. REUTERS/Christopher Pike</p>

“We have to engage at the highest level diplomatically. We have to call for calm and that means speaking with President Karzai as well as officials inside Pakistan,” he told CTV.

“We have always been very transparent and very frank about the need for Pakistan to work with us in this effort.”

MacKay spoke after Afghan President Hamid Karzai threatened to send troops into Pakistan to hunt Taliban militants if they pursued cross-border attacks into Afghanistan.

Canada has about 2,500 troops in Afghanistan as part of a NATO-led force.

Ottawa pledged earlier this year to put more focus on development as part of a deal to win opposition support to keep the Canadian military force in Afghanistan until 2011.

Reporting by Scott Anderson

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