US, Pakistan ink NATO transit deal

July 31st, 2012 - 9:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Pervez Musharraf Washington, July 31 (IANS/RIA Novosti) The US and Pakistan Tuesday signed a deal formalising an agreement on NATO supplies to Afghanistan through Pakistani territory, US media reported.

Pakistan had closed the NATO supply routes in retaliation for US airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at the border with Afghanistan last November. Pakistan demanded an official apology from Washington in order to reopen the routes.

In line with Tuesday’s deal, signed in a ceremony at Rawalpindi, Pakistan will allow Afghanistan-bound NATO convoys to cross its territory until the end of 2015, one year beyond the deadline for allied troops pullout from Afghanistan, according to the New York Times.

Pakistani police would ensure security of NATO trucks until they reach the restive tribal belt at the border with Afghanistan, where the paramilitary Frontier Corps would take over, the report said.

The deal also allows both sides to extend the deal in one-year intervals beyond Dec 31, 2015, the report said. The deal will apply to other NATO nations if they sign separate pacts with Islamabad.

The so-called “memorandum of understanding” codified a longstanding informal agreement on NATO transit through Pakistan struck with the government of former president Pervez Musharraf in the wake of the 9/11 attacks that preceded the launch of the US anti-Taliban operation in Afghanistan.

Islamabad agreed to resume the transit after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said earlier this month that the US was “sorry” for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military and “acknowledged the mistakes” that resulted in the soldiers’ deaths.

Last week, however, Pakistan once against shut down the routes following an attack on a NATO truck blamed on the Pakistani Taliban.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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