Pentagon hints at imminent reopening of Pakistani supply routes

WASHINGTON, May 15: The Pentagon has voiced hope that Pakistan would reopen its ground supply lines into landlocked Afghanistan “in the very near future” and said it wanted to “reinvigorate” the bilateral relationship, strained by a string of incidents in the recent past.

“We are hopeful that in the very near future they will reopened,” George Little, acting assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, told journalists during a briefing.

“They are important supply routes for us.” Little said of the land lines of transportation that were closed by Pakistan in response to killing of its 24 soldiers in U.S. war plane strikes on Salala border post on November 26 last year.

After the closure of Pakistani routes six months ago , the U.S. logistics specialists quickly shifted to other means to supply the Afghanistan-based forces, but the routes through Pakistan remain the “most direct and most cost-effective.”

Little said the U.S. continues to work with Pakistan.

 “We continue to work closely with the Pakistanis to renew our relationship that gets over some of the obstacles that we faced in the past,” Little said.

The United States and Pakistan share common threats, concerns and interests, the assistant secretary said.

Terrorism is common concern that both the United States and Pakistan face,” he said.

“The same terrorists that come after us go after Pakistanis and have been responsible for the deaths of thousands of Pakistanis.”

“ We, at the end of the day, believe that we share common interests with Pakistan.  The relationship, we believe, is getting to where it needs to be.  And that’s why we’re committed to ongoing dialogue, not just on GLOCs (ground lines of communications) and on terrorism, but across the full range of security issues that we have common interest on.”

Asked if the administration has ruled out an apology in the November 2011 incident – that saw the loss of Pakistani lives and strained relations- Little said the U.S. had expressed deep regret in the wake of the incident.

 “ I would reiterate what we said in December, and that is that we’ve expressed deep regret and extended our condolences to the Pakistani people, to the Pakistani government, and of course to the families of the loved ones who were lost and of course those who were injured in the incident as well.  So we have been clear about expressing regret for that incident, and the goal now is to press ahead, move forward, and reinvigorate the relationship with our Pakistani partners.”

Sources: MGCT, U.S. Department of Defense



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