Pakistan is reopening NATO supply lines to Afghanistan following an unprecedented official U.S. apology on Tuesday for the accidental killing of Pakistani troops last year.
“We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military," U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton said said in a statement after a telephone conversation with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. “Foreign Minister Khar and I acknowledged the mistakes that resulted in the loss of Pakistani military lives.”
Pakistan imposed a blockade on NATO's ground supply lines to Afghanistan following a NATO airstrike in November last year along the Afghan border which left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead.
The incident further strained already soured relations between Washington and Islamabad. Pakistani authorities demanded an official apology from Washington in order to reopen the supply routes.
“I am pleased that Foreign Minister Khar has informed me that the ground supply lines into Afghanistan are opening," Clinton said.
She said the decision had been made by key Pakistani civilian and military leaders at a meeting in Islamabad on Tuesday.
According to Clinton, Pakistan will not charge any transit fee for NATO supplies, which would help to carry out the planned withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan "at a much lower cost."
The Pakistan Taliban were quick to react to the news, vowing to launch massive attacks on NATO supply convoys in Pakistan until the latest accord between Washington and Islamabad collapses, the DawnNews television network said.
A Taliban spokesman said NATO convoys would be at risk throughout Pakistan.
Before the closures last year, more than 70 percent of supplies needed by the U.S.-led international troops in Afghanistan were transported by land from the Pakistani port of Karachi.
While the Pakistani supply lines remained closed for seven months, NATO was forced to use a much costlier Northern route through Russia and some central Asian states.
All NATO combat troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.