Pakistan to reopen supply routes to Afghanistan: Clinton (Lead)

July 4th, 2012 - 12:50 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 3 (IANS) US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that Pakistan has decided to re-open NATO supply routes to Afghanistan, after she expressed her “deepest regrets” over last year’s NATO strike which killed 24 Pakistani security personnel.

Clinton said she offered her “deepest regrets” to Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar for the “tragic incidents”, CNN reported.

In a statement, 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 the action would also help the US and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force conduct a planned draw-down of troops at a much lower cost. “This is critically important to the men and women who are fighting terrorism and extremism in Afghanistan.”

US had to suspend drone attacks after the NATO strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in Mohmand Agency Nov 26, 2011. A furious Islamabad barred the passage of NATO supplies through the country and boycotted an international conference that focussed on Afghanistan’s future.

Pakistan had also directed the US to vacate the key Shamsi airbase that was used to launch drone strikes.

On Monday, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen had mentioned the decline in cooperation with Pakistan.

“No, it’s not business as usual. We have seen a decline in cooperation activities during recent months which I strongly regret,” the EuAsiaNews quoted Rasmussen as saying.

“I think it is of mutual interest to have a close cooperation between Pakistan and NATO,” he added.

“I still hope that we will see a reopening of the transit routes in not a too distant future,” he told a press conference in Brussels.

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