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US Envoy: Pakistan 'Communication Lines' Should Be Reopened

VOA News April 26, 2012

A senior U.S. envoy says communication lines with Pakistan should be reopened, after relations between the two countries reached a new low late last year.

Pakistan shut down the ground supply route to international troops in neighboring Afghanistan after a cross-border coalition attack mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani troops.

U.S. Special Representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan Mark Grossman on Thursday offered condolences for the attack but not an apology, as demanded by Pakistan's parliament. He met with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani in Islamabad ahead of a trilateral meeting with Afghan officials.

Grossman told reporters that the United States is ready for talks on re-opening the supply lines and that "the task now is to begin a conversation about how to move forward."

Foreign Secretary Jilani said Thursday, the arrangement with regard to the NATO supplies would no longer be valid and that the countries must work out a new agreement.

Earlier this month, Pakistan's parliament unanimously approved a list of conditions that the United States must meet if relations between the two countries are to be restored and the supply route is to be reopened. The non-binding resolution demands that the United States immediately end drone strikes on Pakistani soil and prohibits covert operations inside Pakistani territory.

U.S. special forces killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden during a covert operation in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad last May.

On Thursday, the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad said it was restricting its employees from going to restaurants and markets in Islamabad between April 27 and May 5 and recommended that American citizens in the Pakistani capital take similar precautions. The embassy did not give a reason for the security warning, but the dates coincide with the first anniversary of bin Laden's death, which falls on May 2.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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