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U.S. Rejects Claim That Drone Strike Hurts Pakistan Peace Talks

A Pakistani protester from United Citizen Action holds a burning U.S. flag as others shout anti-U.S. slogans during a protest against the killing of Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, reportedly in a U.S. drone attack in Pakistani tribal region.
The United States has brushed aside claims that a drone strike that killed Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud had destroyed the country's nascent peace process.

A State Department official said that talks with the militants are an "internal matter for Pakistan."

"We refer you to the government of Pakistan for further details," the statement added.

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It insisted Pakistan and the United States had a "shared strategic interest in ending extremist violence."

It also said it could not confirm that Mehsud had been killed in Pakistan’s tribal northwest on November 1.

Earlier on November 2, Pakistan's interior minister slammed the U.S. strike that killed Mehsud as an "attack on the peace process."

Chaudhry Nisar said "every aspect" of Pakistan's cooperation with the United States would be reviewed.

"It is not the killing of one person or many people. It is the killing of peace efforts in this region," Nisar said. "This is a secret attack on peace process. This drone strike has not been carried out by Pakistan. As I am speaking to you, we have summoned the U.S. ambassador [to protest the strike]."

The Pakistani foreign office said Mehsud's death was "counterproductive to Pakistan's efforts to bring peace and stability to Pakistan and the region."

Information Minister Pervez Rashid said: "We will not allow the peace talks to be killed."

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had pledged to talk with the Taliban to try to end its campaign of violence, which has left thousands of people dead in bombings and shootings.

Also on November 2, the Taliban's ruling council reportedly nominated a new leader to replace Mehsud: Khan Said, also known as Sajna.

Mehsud took over the Pakistani Taliban in August 2009 after a drone strike killed the previous leader.

RELATED: Drone Strike Kills Pakistani Taliban Leader Mehsud

The Pakistani Taliban is an umbrella of militant groups separate from but allied with the Afghan Taliban.

Based on reporting by AFP and BBC