The U.S. team of negotiators left Pakistan without coming to an agreement with their Pakistani counterparts to re-allow NATO supply trucks to use the country’s routes to supply troops in nearby Afghanistan, according to the Defense Department on Monday.
The move comes just days after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the U.S. is becoming increasingly impatient with Islamabad for not doing enough to dismantle the operations of militants based in the country, particularly the al-Qaeda-aligned Haqqani network.
With the U.S. unable to reach a deal over the NATO supply lines, U.S.-Pakistan relations will likely be further strained.
“The decision was reached to bring the team home for a short period of time,” George Little, a Pentagon spokesperson, was quoted by AFP as saying. He said the negotiation team has been in Pakistan for six weeks.
“I believe that some of the team left over the weekend and the remainder of the team will leave shortly,” Little added, according to Reuters. “This was a U.S. decision.”
Pakistan closed down the routes last November because a NATO airstrike killed 24 of its troops. NATO apologized and said the strike was accidental, but Islamabad—already displeased with the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden—protested by closing supply lines.
“We will continue to work through the [ground supply route] matter with Pakistan,” Little said.
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