Pakistan agreed to reopen supply routes into Afghanistan to the U.S. on Tuesday after they'd been closed in retaliation for the U.S. killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in November and repeated drone attacks. The decision comes after Sec. Hillary Clinton issued a carefully scripted, soft apology for the killing of the soldiers and offered no stop to the drone strikes in Pakistan.
In a statement released from the State Department, Clinton stated that she had spoken to Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar by telephone:
I once again reiterated our deepest regrets for the tragic incident in Salala last November. I offered our sincere condolences to the families of the Pakistani soldiers who lost their lives. Foreign Minister Khar and I acknowledged the mistakes that resulted in the loss of Pakistani military lives. We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military. We are committed to working closely with Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent this from ever happening again.
Making no connection to the apology, Clinton states that Kkar informed her that ground supply lines would be reopening:
In addition, I am pleased that Foreign Minister Khar has informed me that the ground supply lines (GLOC) into Afghanistan are opening. Pakistan will continue not to charge any transit fee in the larger interest of peace and security in Afghanistan and the region.
State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland's statements during a press conference deflected U.S. blame for the killing of the Pakistani soldiers. "There were mistakes made on both sides that led to the tragic loss of like and we are both sorry for those," stated Nuland.
Ben Doherty writes in the Sydney Morning Herald that the decision is a two-part win for the U.S.. The U.S. will not have to pay the original $5000 Pakistan wanted per container for trucks using the route. Additionally, it's a win for the U.S. drone program. Doherty writes that the U.S. "conceded no ground on its controversial drone attacks in the border regions. Demands from Pakistan's national security commission for the 'immediate cessation' of the unmanned Predator strikes were simply ignored."
Reports suggest the US may now release over $1 billion in withheld military funding to Pakistan's military.
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Reuters reported that Pakistani foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar had told the US that the supply routes would be reopened very soon.
But the agreement drew an angry response from the Pakistani Taliban, which promised to attack the US/NATO supply trucks and kill the drivers when the convoys resume.
The drivers prepared to resume shipments Wednesday, but the truckers are demanding greatly increased security guarantees before the resumption of the convoys.
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