updated 11/3/2008 8:52:25 AM ET 2008-11-03T13:52:25

Pakistan on Monday warned the new U.S. commander of America's two wars that frequent missile strikes on Taliban and al-Qaida targets on Pakistani territory fan anti-American sentiment in an Islamic country vital to the struggle against terrorism.

Gen. David Petraeus met Pakistani officials including Defense Minister Ahmad Mukhtar and army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Monday as part of his first international trip since taking over U.S. Central Command three days before.

The priority afforded Pakistan reflects growing U.S. concern about how Islamic militants are using pockets of its northeast region as sanctuaries from which to support the escalating insurgency in neighboring Afghanistan.

Complaints from U.S. commanders about Pakistan's efforts to counter the insurgents have been accompanied by a surge of missile strikes, which have continued despite strong condemnation from Islamabad.

'Anti-America sentiments'
A Defense Ministry statement said Mukhtar told Petraeus and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher that the missile strikes from drones "generate anti-America sentiments as well as create outrage and uproar among the people."

It urged Washington to respect Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity — even though the government appears to have lost control over much of the border zone.

Washington is suspected in at least 17 missile strikes in Pakistan since August.

In September, a U.S. ground assault in a tribal region in Pakistan's northwest spurred particular outrage in Pakistan, whose pro-Western government cannot ignore the widespread resentment of U.S. policy in the region. There have been no reports of additional ground assaults since.

Acting U.S. Embassy spokesman Wes Robertson declined to provide specifics on Petraeus' agenda for security reasons. However, he also is expected to meet with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari.

'Need for enhanced cooperation'
At the Defense Ministry, officials briefed Petraeus on Pakistani military operations against insurgents in its border regions. According to the statement, both sides "stressed the need for enhanced cooperation to eliminate the scourge of terrorism."

A military statement said Petraeus met with Kayani and the chairman of Pakistan's joint chiefs of staff, General Tariq Majid.

It gave no indication of what message Petraeus delivered.

Majid told the U.S. delegation the two countries needed a "consensus strategy to deal with violent extremism" that "keeps in view the local perspective," the statement said.

It was unclear if Petraeus addressed vows from Pakistani and Afghan leaders to seek talks with elements of the Taliban.

Petraeus, previously the top U.S. commander in Baghdad, has indicated support for efforts to reach out to members of the Taliban considered moderate enough to cooperate with the Afghan government.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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