KARACHI: Officials in the United States Department of State are said to have been supporting a proposal circulating in the administration for the US to issue a formal apology over the deaths of Pakistani soldiers in the November 26 Nato airstrike, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.
The daily quoted a US official, briefed on the State Department’s view, as saying, “We’ve felt an apology would be helpful in creating some space.”
Earlier, the White House had said that US President Barack Obama will not issue a formal apology or condolences on the deaths.
Additionally, as a first step towards thawing frosty strategic ties between United States and Pakistan by the Obama administration, the head of United States military’s Central Command (Centcom) General James N Mattis is scheduled to arrive in Pakistan this month to meet Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
The New York Times reported that General Mattis is likely to discuss investigations of the November 26 attack by Nato forces that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, along with new border coordination procedures to avoid such incidents in the future.
US Department of State spokesperson Mark Toner had earlier countered a report that General Mattis’ trip to brief Pakistan over the Nato-Isaf investigation report of the attack had been cancelled, saying that the trip had postponed due to internal political dynamics of Pakistan.
Officials in the US and Pakistan think that the talks between General Mattis and General Kayani will set off a sequence of negotiations and engagements that will revive the tattered relationships between the two countries.
Pakistan, hours after the Nato-Isaf report was launched had rejected it, calling it “short on facts” and also had declined US’ offer to become a part of the joint probe. While the US inquiry places major blame on Nato, it maintains that Pakistani soldiers fired first.
The US, through back channels, has hinted at coming up with a clear stance on the Nato attacks in order to pacify resentment in Pakistan.
Pakistan has also recently hinted at resuming Nato supply lines which have been closed down for over a period of two months.
Pakistan Ambassador to US Sherry Rehman had met with General Mattis in Washington. In the meeting, Rehman had stressed the need for both countries to work together to build a relationship that is “equitable, transparent and predictable.”
Rehman had added that Pakistan endured the most sacrifices out of any country in the war against terror, and that they had also contributed the most towards successes in the war.
The Centcom Commander had acknowledged Pakistan’s contribution, especially the close cooperation of Pakistani military with Nato/Isaf forces stationed in Afghanistan. General Mattis had also stressed the importance of continued collaboration between both countries at all levels.