Secretary of State Hillary Clinton apologized Tuesday for the NATO airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last year — and announced that Pakistan has in turn agreed to re-open supply lines into Afghanistan that have been closed since the incident. Click below to read the rest of the story.
The deadly airstrike last November crippled already-damaged relations between the United States and Pakistan. Islamabad retaliated by shutting down vital supply lines into Afghanistan, and the two sides had been struggling ever since to reach a deal — with a U.S. apology said to be a key demand of the Pakistanis.
The Obama administration resisted until now. Clinton, for the first time, delivered that apology Tuesday morning during a phone call with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.
“We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military,” Clinton said in a statement.
She said that during the phone call, she “once again reiterated our deepest regrets for the tragic incident” last November, and “I offered our sincere condolences to the families of the Pakistani soldiers who lost their lives.”
Clinton added: “We are committed to working closely with Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent this from ever happening again.”
The Defense and State departments confirmed that Pakistan has in turn agreed to re-open the shuttered supply routes. Clinton said in her statement she was “pleased” to announce the opening, and noted Pakistan would not charge a transit fee, which had been a source of contention.
“This is a tangible demonstration of Pakistan’s support for a secure, peaceful, and prosperous Afghanistan and our shared objectives in the region,” Clinton said.
The statement followed signs that such a deal was near. Gen. John Allen, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, had visited Islamabad twice over the last week to help seal the deal.
Pentagon spokesman Capt. John Kirby told Fox News that no vehicles or convoys have started moving across the border yet but confirmed the deal.
The closure since November has cost the U.S. more than $2 billion.