ISLAMABAD (AP) — A top U.S. envoy met Pakistani government and army officers Thursday in Islamabad in an effort to get the country to reopen American and NATO supply routes to Afghanistan.
Pakistan shut the supply lines in November to protest U.S air raids that killed 24 Pakistani troops along the Afghan border. It has taken the government months to navigate the delicate path of resuscitating ties with the U.S., a difficult process in a country where anti-American sentiment is rampant.
The army used the deaths to try to extract better terms from Washington, which sees Pakistan as an essential — if unreliable — ally against al-Qaida and vital to the sustainability of any peace deal with insurgents fighting in neighboring Afghanistan.
The country has demanded that Washington apologize for the border killings and halt attacks by drone aircraft against militants in northwest Pakistan. The U.S. regards the airstrikes as essential in the fight against al-Qaida and associated groups.
Earlier this month, Pakistan's parliament finally approved new guidelines for the country in its relationship with the U.S., a decision that Washington hopes will pave the way for the reopening of the supply lines.
Marc Grossman, who is Washington's envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said he didn't expect to get an immediate commitment that the routes would reopen but that "the task now is to begin a conversation about how to move forward." Grossman also repeated earlier U.S. statements of regret but didn't apologize.
Washington wants the supply routes open before a May 20-21 summit of NATO leaders in Chicago.
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