Pakistan and the United States reached a deal on Tuesday to reopen land routes that NATO uses to supply troops in Afghanistan, ending a seven-month closure imposed after 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed by NATO aircraft last November, Reuters reports.
US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, spoke to Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. She said in a statement that she had offered “sincere condolences” for the deaths which spurred a major diplomatic rift between the two wary allies.
Khar told Clinton the land routes were reopening, and that “Pakistan will continue not to charge any transit fee in the larger interest of peace and security in Afghanistan and the region,” 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,” Clinton said, adding that the deal would allow the United States and its NATO partners to conduct their planned military drawdown from Afghanistan at a much lower cost.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf, said on Tuesday the closure of the routes was damaging ties with the United States, in the clearest signal yet of a breakthrough following seven months of stalemate.
“The continued closure of supply lines not only impinges on our relationship with the U.S., but also on our relations with the 49 other member states of NATO/ISAF,” Ashraf told senior government and military officials, according to a statement issued by his office.
Clinton’s statement came closer than the Obama administration had before to an outright apology for the deadly November border incident, while still allowing Washington to say it had not formally apologized.