The day before millions of Americans celebrated the United States’ independence, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conceded to Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, apologizing for the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers in an effort to re-open supply routes to NATO bases in Afghanistan.
For the past seven months, the northern border of Pakistan has been blocked off, preventing ground convoys from resupplying NATO troops stationed in Afghanistan. The border, Khar warned, would remained closed until the United States apologized for the deaths of the soldiers, forcing NATO to move all supplies through an aerial route, Wired reports.
Now that the United States has offered its condolences, the border has reopened, and a prior shipping fee reduced.
“I offered our sincere condolences to the families of the Pakistani soldiers who lost their lives,” Clinton said. “Foreign Minister Khar and I acknowledged the mistakes that resulted in the loss of Pakistani military lives. We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military. We are committed to working closely with Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent this from ever happening again.”
Prior to Clinton’s phone call, containers being moved across the border faced a $5,000 shipping fee. The fee now sits at $250.
Following the incident last November, the Pakistani government also kicked the CIA out of an air field used for launching drones.
Over the past few days, military leaders and top government officials have met with Pakistani leaders in hopes of resolving issues between the two countries, The New York Times reports.
In addition to Clinton’s apology, the Obama administration will also ask Congress to reimburse Pakistan $1.2 billion for counterinsurgency operations carried out by Pakistani troops along the Afghanistan border. Obama, though, was not quick to offer up an apology to Pakistan following the attacks, against the advice of the State Department. (SEE ALSO: Columnist: Hillary Clinton will be veep candidate)
“The apology will lower the temperature on U.S.-Pakistan relations,” said Shamila Chaudhary, former director for Pakistan and Afghanistan at the National Security Council. “However, relations are not on the mend. They remain very much broken and will remain so unless the two countries resolve broader policy differences on Afghanistan.”