US close to resolving dispute with Pak over blocking of NATO supply route: Gibbs

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Washington, Oct 5 (ANI): Following a high-level meeting in Washington between US and Pakistani diplomats, the White House has stated that the two countries are close to resolving their dispute over Islamabad's decision to close a supply route for US-led forces in Afghanistan.

"We are in discussions and working with the government of Pakistan to address the concerns relating to the closure of the border there. We believe we are close to producing some results on that and may have more on that in the future," the Dawn quoted Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, as saying.

When asked how soon he expected the reopening of the Torkham route, which Pakistan had closed last week after three soldiers were killed in an air strike by ISAF helicopters in its territory, Gibbs replied, "We're working government to government. Obviously, we have expressed our condolences for what happened several days ago in Pakistan with ISAF and their forces. And we're working through the border closing right now".

However, he refused to comment on media reports, which claimed that a fresh US drone strike in Pakistan had killed eight militants, including Germans, saying that he did not offer comments on intelligence matters.

The White House spokesman reiterated that despite the differences that sometimes cropped up, both Pakistan and Afghanistan remained America's "strong and important" partners in its war against terror.

"We would not be in Afghanistan were it not in their interest and our interest for us to be there, to ensure that what the Taliban once held and controlled, they don't ever control again," Gibbs said, adding that a Taliban-run Afghanistan would allow the insurgents "the unencumbered ability to plan and execute attacks against our country."

Meanwhile, sources at the Pakistan Embassy have also confirmed that senior officials from the two countries had discussed the NATO supply route reopening issue at the US State Department.

"Such talks are being held in both Washington and Islamabad," revealed a Pakistani diplomat, who did not want to be identified.

Last week, the three Pakistani army men were killed in an early morning air strike by NATO helicopters at a military post, 200 metres inside the Pakistani border in Kurram Agency.

Reacting to the incident, Pakistan had suspended supply convoys along the Khyber Pass route, which links Peshawar in Pakistan with Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan, and lodged a protest with the NATO command in Brussels, demanding an apology for the killings as well as intrusions in Pakistani territory. (ANI)

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