US hopes Pak will reopen NATO supply lines: Report

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Washington, May 19: Notwithstanding Pakistan's insistence for an American apology for a NATO raid that killed 24 of its soldiers, the US hopes that Islamabad would reopen the crucial supply routes to the allied forces in Afghanistan without a formal apology from it.

According to the Fox News, the Obama Administration has ruled out any formal apology to Pakistan and hopes that Pakistan would re-open the supply routes without it. The US had already expressed deep regret over the November 26 incident.

However, Sherry Rehman, the Pakistan Ambassador to the US, told the CNN: "I think that (a formal apology from the US) is not going to go off the table." Her remarks came when she was asked if Pakistan is still demanding a "formal apology" from the United States.

"Twenty-four coffins draped with our flag, killed at the hands of not an enemy, but a friend, has caused national fury in Pakistan, if you must understand that," Rehman said referring to the November 26 incident when 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed in a cross-border NATO fire.

Immediately thereafter Pakistan had shut down the crucial NATO supply line and demanded an apology from the US. "Well, we have done a full spectrum review, and the Parliament has asked very clearly for a formal apology," she said.

"So, until there's a formal apology, the trucks won't resume?" she was asked. "I think that while our groups are talking, there has been some movement forward. The invitation to the NATO summit (in Chicago) was unconditional. Our participation has been unconditional. So, these are important breakthroughs," Rehman said.

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari would be attending the NATO Summit in Chicago beginning tomorrow. The Fox News, in its report, said the decision by Obama Administration not to apologise comes amid negotiations and progress between Pakistan and the US in opening ground-supply lines.

"The decision was argued in dozens of video conference calls, nearly 20 high-level White House meetings and hundreds of confidential e-mails," it said. And the administration came to the brink of saying sorry several times.

One mission to deliver an apology by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was aborted midflight, according to The Wall Street Journal. A US official told Fox News that many factors played into the decision, including that Pakistan appears to have "moved on" from its initial anger.

The official also asked: "When are they going to apologise to us" for a series of grievances, most notably that high-level terrorists such as Osama bin Laden gained safe harbour inside Pakistan in recent years.

PTI  

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