US General to fly to Islamabad for talks to reopen supplies

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Washington, Mar 7: In indications of a thaw in US-Pak ties, a top US General has said he plans to travel to Pakistan in next ten days for talks to reopen NATO supply routes to Afghanistan. General James Mattis, Commander of US Central Command, said he planned to make the visit to hold talks with Pakistani military leaders.

This would be the first high-level visit of a US military leader after the November 26 border incident in which 24 Pak soldiers were killed which led to closing down of supply routes. Mattis said that though the NATO had managed to keep supplies flowing into Afghanistan, but the Americans needed the land routes open from Pakistan to carry out withdrawl of forces from the embattled nation.

"We have proven that we can sustain the campaign through the Northern Distribution Network and through what we call our multimodal, which is basically part by air, part by sea, resupply of our effort there," the general told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"I will fly to Pakistan in about ten days and we will reopen the discussions," Mattis said, replying "yes", when asked if he was optimistic on lifting off the blockade. US officials are confident that Pakistan will soon reopen the land routes once a Parliamentary review of the US-Pak relations is complete.

The American general said the Parliamentary review would be over before he arrives for talks in Islamabad. "I think the Parliamentary process as far as the new relationship with the United States will be reported out by that point and I think their military will be able to engage with us," he said.

PTI

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