Pakistan president to attend NATO summit; US expects wonderful signal on reopening supply routes

President Barack Obama (center) with Afghan Pr...

President Barack Obama (center) with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari during a US-Afghan-Pakistan Trilateral meeting in Cabinet Room. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON,  May 15 : The United States on Tuesday said having  Pakistan at next week’s NATO summit is important, with the State Department saying the reopening of Pakistani supply routes for US-led international forces before the alliance’s meeting would be a big signal.

“We are making progress. We have not yet completed an agreement (on  resumption of supplies through Pakistani routes). We do consider the agreement important, but we also consider—and all of our NATO partners considered it important—to have Pakistan in the ISAF and neighbors event at the summit in Chicago. So the invitation has in fact been issued,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani embassy in Washington indicated that President Asif Ali Zardari will represent Pakistan at the NATO summit in Chicago from May 20 to 21. The NATO gathering will bring together leaders from several Western and Asian leaders in President Barack Obama’s hometown.

At the State Department, the spokesperson noted, “as Secretary General (NATO) Rasmussen  said when he was here, as a neighbor of Afghanistan, Pakistan does have an important role to play in supporting Afghan security.”

“We will continue to work on this throughout the week. Obviously,  it’ll be a wonderful signal if we can get it done by the time of the summit. But we decided nonetheless—NATO countries all together decided that it was important to have Pakistan in the ISAF meeting,” she added.

Pakistan’s willingness to allow resumption of NATO supplies  via its land routes into landlocked Afghanistan is being seen by experts as a sign of revival of US-Pakistan ties, which were seriously undermined by a series of incidents including the November 26 US war plane strikes at Pakistani Salala border post, which killed 24 soldiers.

Sources: MGCT, State Department, Pakistan Embassy in Washington

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