Pakistan to Reopen NATO Supply Lines Wednesday

Posted July 4th, 2012 at 5:55 am (UTC-5)
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Trucks carrying NATO supply convoys are set to resume shipments to Afghanistan, following a U.S.-Pakistani deal that ended Pakistan's lengthy blockade.

In Pakistan's port city of Karachi, drivers and other workers put once-idle trucks in position to ship the supplies.

Pakistan agreed to reopen the supply lines Tuesday after the United States said it is sorry for American airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers along the Afghan border in November.

The incident prompted Pakistan to close the supply routes and aggravated already strained relations between the two countries.

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

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she spoke to Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar by phone. She said they both acknowledged mistakes made in the incident that killed the 24 Pakistani soldiers.

Clinton also said Khar assured her 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.

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