Pakistan to open border after deal on Nato closure
Pakistan and the United States have reached a deal to reopen land routes that Nato uses to supply troops in Afghanistan, ending a seven-month blockade imposed after 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed by Nato aircraft last November.
Yesterday US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she had offered “sincere condolences” to Pakistani foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar. The US had previously declined to apologise.
In return, Ms Khar told Mrs Clinton the land routes were reopening, and “Pakistan will continue not to charge any transit fee in the larger interest of peace and security in Afghanistan and the region,” Mrs Clinton said.
“This is a tangible demonstration of Pakistan’s support for a secure, peaceful, and prosperous Afghanistan and our shared objectives in the region,” she said, adding that the deal would allow the US and its Nato partners to conduct their planned military drawdown from Afghanistan at a much lower cost.
Mrs Clinton’s statement came closer than president Barack Obama’s administration ever has to an outright apology for the deadly November border incident, while still allowing Washington to say it had not formally apologised.
The border incident had been a major new blow to US-Pakistan ties, following the US raid that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the Pakistan garrison town of Abbottabad.
Mrs Clinton said she “reiterated our deepest regrets”, and offered condolences to the families of the Pakistan soldiers.
“We are sorry for the losses suffered. We are committed to working closely with Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent this from happening again,”she said.
The deal, reached after months of haggling, did not involve any further payment from Nato coffers for cross-Border shipments.
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