- Rasmussen hopes border will be open for supplies as soon as possible
- Qureshi says Pakistan will only reopen supply route once public anger eases, security improves
ISLAMABAD/BRUSSELS: NATO’s chief expressed regret on Monday for the deaths of Pakistani soldiers last week and said he hoped Pakistan’s border would reopen for NATO supplies to Afghanistan as soon as possible.
Angered by repeated attacks by NATO helicopters on targets within its borders, Pakistan blocked one of the supply routes for NATO troops in Afghanistan after a strike killed three Pakistani soldiers in the Kurram region.
Analysts and Western officials said Pakistan’s closure of the border for a few days would not seriously impact the war effort in Afghanistan.
“I expressed my regret for the incident last week in which Pakistani soldiers lost their lives,” NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after meeting Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Brussels. “I expressed my hope the border will be open for supplies as soon as possible.”
The apology came after gunmen attacked a convoy of trucks taking goods to Western forces in Afghanistan on the outskirts of Islamabad, killing three guards. Rasmussen said the killing of the three soldiers was unintended and showed the need to improve coordination between the NATO and the Pakistani military.
Also, Qureshi expressed Pakistan’s concern over the border violations and attacks in Pakistani territory by NATO and ISAF forces.
He said that Pakistan would only reopen the supply route once public anger eases and security improves. “Unless the reaction cools down and we make sure that the supply line is secured, we cannot reopen it,” he said, adding that the UN mandate for ISAF was confined to Afghanistan and NATO/ISAF forces were again advised to refrain from any actions that constitute a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. agencies