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US military trainers to return to Pakistan by April?

Source: PTI
January 21, 2012 11:50 IST
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Pakistan would allow United States military trainers, who were kicked out of the country following the November 26 NATO raid, to return as early as April or May and would also reopen the crucial supply route for the coalition forces based in Afghanistan, according to a media report.

However, the Pentagon was quick to assert that it had not received any indication from Pakistani officials so far in this regard and was waiting for the official report from Islamabad on the issue.

"Pakistan would allow back US military trainers, including Special Forces teams, and a resumption of close cooperation with the CIA in targeting militants who use the Pakistani side of the border as a safe haven and breeding ground for extremism," Fox News reported.

The US trainers could return to Pakistan as early as April or May, the report said

"It (Pakistan) would also reopen the Torkham and Chaman border crossings into Afghanistan, which have been closed to NATO supply convoys since the (November 26) attack," it said.

Following the November 26 cross-border attack by NATO in which 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed, Pakistan had closed the supply routes, asked the US to vacate its secret Shamsi air base and ordered American soldiers to leave the country.

Pakistani Parliament is currently reviewing its relationship with the US.

The Pentagon said it has not received any such report so far from Pakistan on reopening of supply routes and sending the trainers back, as the country is still in the process of discussing its relationship with the United States.

"We understand the government of Pakistan is still working on its review of US-Pakistan relations, and we have not yet received a formal report from the government. Decisions about the level of Pakistani commitment to our military relationship are obviously theirs to make, and we respect that," Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt John Kirby told PTI when asked about the Fox News report.

The US continues to desire a close military relationship with Pakistan "and we continue to believe that better coordination, communication and integration of effort between us only serves to sharpen our fight against the common threat of terrorism," Kirby said.

"We both have a fundamental interest in cooperation, in eliminating Al Qaeda's ability to operate from Pakistan and in ensuring a stable Afghanistan and stable region," Kirby said.

Fox News reported that the US would still not be allowed to operate from the Shamsi air base as was the case before November 26.

"They will never be allowed back, at Shamsi or anywhere else," a Pakistani official was quoted as saying.

After the report is presented to the Americans, a lot could happen very quickly, the Pakistani official told Fox News, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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