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'US apology over air strike would help reopening of GLOCs'

June 28, 2012 11:29 IST

An American apology for the November 26 air strike, in which 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed, would be helpful in reopening of ground lines of communications (GLOCs), a top Pakistani diplomat based in Washington has told US lawmakers.

The demand of an US apology was reiterated by Sherry Rehman, Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States, when she met the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, and senators Rand Paul and James Rische at the Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

NATO supply routes to Afghanistan were blocked by Islamabad after the November 26 cross-border air strike last year that resulted in the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers.

However, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta had earlier this month said that the US administration has already "expressed regret over the incident", and there were other elements at play which prevented the supply route from being reopened.

Recently, Washington has said the closing of routes was costing it as much as USD 100 million (Rs 5,200 cr approx) a month to maintain supplies on alternate routes.

Rehman, during her meeting, hoped that the two sides will be able to reach a common understanding at the earliest.

McConnell and Paul had called for the meeting on the issue of reopening of the GLOCs and continued detention of Dr Shakeel Afridi, the physician who helped CIA in tracing Osama bin Laden, according to a Pak embassy statement.

Responding to the Senators' concerns of safe havens inside Pakistan, Rehman stressed the country has no tolerance for militant groups and its actions in Swat, Bajaur, Mohmand

Agency and South Waziristan proved it.

The Pakistani ambassador claimed that these terrorists now have found safe havens in Afghanistan. In the last one month, three major attacks were launched from these sanctuaries from the Afghan side resulting in the martyrdom of 18 of Pakistan soldiers. The continued presence of these sanctuaries in Afghanistan in the face of US, NATO and

Afghanistan's combined military might is beyond explanation, she stressed.
Lalit K Jha in Washington
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