US says American team in Pakistan working on supply routes issue

WASHINGTON, May 11 : The United States on Friday said it continues to work with Islamabad on reopening the Pakistani land routes for NATO supplies but avoided any specific comments on the alliance’s suggestion that an invitation to Pakistan for this month’s Chicago summit was linked to resumption of supplies.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen spoke very clearly on the issue earlier in the day in Brussels.

Both US and NATO consider the Pakistani land routes as crucial to transportation of supplies into landlocked Afghanistan, but the routes have closed for almost six months since a NATO war plane killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in a cross-border on the security posts. The incident enraged Islamabad, a longtime ally in the fight against al-Qaeda in the region. 

“When Ambassador Grossman was in Pakistan, some ten days ago, he had substantive conversations himself with regard to the opening of the land routes.

“And then he brought with him an expert team to work with the Pakistani expert team,” Nuland said, when asked to comment on the issue.

“That team is still in Pakistan. They are continuing to work together on this issue,” she added.

 “I think Secretary General Rasmussen spoke pretty clearly where NATO is on this set of issues. He did remind that the supply routes are blocked and that we are continuing our dialogue and that we are looking for a solution. So I don’t think I can improve on that,” she remarked.

Nuland confirmed that the Secretary of State has received a letter from members of Congress advocating designating the Afghan Haqqani network as a terrorist organization and said the U.S. administration continues to review the issue.

She added the U.S. and the UN have already designated several leaders of the group as terrorists, which is an effective step.

“We are continuing to review the question of the larger group.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Senator John Kerry, a leading proponent of U.S. aid for Pakistan, has said called for Pakistan to be more cooperative in eliminating alleged sanctuary of the Afghan militants in Pakistan. 

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee raised the issue of the “continued danger of a sanctuary war being prosecuted against the forces” in Afghanistan at a hearing on upcoming NATO summit in Chicago.

  “I am a veteran of a sanctuary war and I know how insidious it can be, and I personally think that it is unacceptable to have a zone of immunity for acts of war against armed forces and against the collective community that is trying accomplish what it is trying to accomplish,” the Democratic senator said in a statement. 

 

” That means Pakistan has to become more assertive and more cooperative, and we may have to resort to other kinds of self-help depending on what they decide to do,” the influential lawmaker added.

Sources: MGCT, State Department, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

 

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