Pakistan Reopens NATO Supply Lines

Posted July 4th, 2012 at 9:25 am (UTC-5)
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Trucks carrying NATO supplies are resuming shipments to Afghanistan through Pakistan, following a U.S.-Pakistani deal that ended Islamabad's lengthy blockade.

In Pakistan's port city of Karachi, drivers and other workers put once-idle trucks in position to transport supplies. But as the drivers prepared to resume shipments, the country's trucker's association made a plea to the government for added protection.

The Pakistani Taliban vowed to continue attacking NATO convoys shortly after Pakistan agreed to reopen the the routes Tuesday.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the initial announcement about the reopening after speaking with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar by phone. She said they were “both sorry for the losses suffered” by both countries in the fight against terrorists and that the United States “is sorry for the Pakistani military's losses.”

Pakistan had closed the supply lines after a U.S. airstrike mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani soldiers along the Afghan border last November.

Pakistan's Cabinet met Wednesday to endorse the decision made a day before by the country's defense committee. Islamabad says it hopes to help facilitate Afghanistan's transition process by reopening the NATO supply lines. International combat troops are set to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Clinton also said Khar assured her that Pakistan would not charge transit fees for the NATO supply convoys. The possibility of transit fees reportedly had been one of the main sticking points between the two countries during their months-long discussion over reopening the supply lines.

For months, one of Pakistan's demands for reopening the supply routes was for the United States to end drone strikes on its territory. Washington has consistently refused. But Pakistani officials said Tuesday they would continue engaging with U.S. officials on that issue.

Pakistan also had demanded a full apology following the attack. But U.S. officials had only offered their deepest regret and sincere condolences up until Tuesday.

NATO supplies can enter and exit Afghanistan through Pakistan or Central Asia. But the northern Central Asian route is more expensive.