Pakistan reopens routes after US apology


WASHINGTON – Pakistan told the United States it was reopening North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) supply routes into neighbouring Afghanistan after secretary of state Hillary Clinton said she was sorry for the deaths of Pakistani soldiers in US air strikes in November, the State Department said yesterday.

The agreement ends a bitter seven-month stalemate between the two countries that has threatened to jeopardise counterterrorism co-operation and has complicated the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military,” Ms Clinton said in a statement issued by the State Department. “We are committed to working closely with Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent this from ever happening again.”

The November airstrikes, which killed 24 soldiers in Pakistani territory after reports of militant activity in the area, led Pakistan to immediately close the supply lines and plunged relations between the countries to a low point.

The agreement yesterday followed a flurry of recent contacts between top US and Pakistani officials.

Gen John R Allen, the US commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan, last week met Pakistani army chief of staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, to discuss counterterrorism strategy and the issue of the supply routes. – (New York Times service)