Clinton to meet Khar after supply routes deal
PARIS: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet Pakistan’s foreign minister in Tokyo on Sunday, seeking to push momentum for better ties after Islamabad agreed to reopen land routes used to supply troops in Afghanistan following a seventh-month freeze, a US official said.
Clinton this week apologized for a November Nato air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, and Islamabad responded by reopening the overland supply routes that are crucial to the US-led war in Afghanistan.
Clinton will meet Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on the sidelines of a Tokyo conference on Afghanistan, a senior US official with Clinton in Paris said on Friday.
Clinton delivered the US apology, long sought by Pakistan but resisted by the Obama administration, in a telephone conversation with Khar this week and the two pledged to work to improve relations, which have taken a nosedive since US forces killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on Pakistani territory last year.
The supply route deal removed one headache, but ties are likely to remain strained by other differences including Pakistan’s opposition to US drone strikes on its territory, and Washington’s allegations that Islamabad condones, or even assists, anti-American militants.
US officials regarded the supply routes as particularly important as the United States and its Nato partners plan to withdraw the bulk of the 128,000 soldiers they have deployed in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
Clinton left Thursday on a marathon overseas trip that also includes stops in Mongolia, Laos, Vietnam, Egypt and Israel.