WASHINGTON: US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said that Pakistan is a victim of terrorism and that both Islamabad and Washington are working in good faith to try to resolve the issue over restoration of supply routes into landlocked Afghanistan.
“There continue to be discussions in this area. We continue to have a line of communication with Pakistanis to try to see if we can take steps to re-open the GLOCs. (ground lines of communication). The good news is that there continue to be those discussions. There are still some tough issues to try to resolve,” he said at the Pentagon news briefing.
“But I think the important thing right now is that that both sides, in good faith, keep working to see if we can resolve this,” he said, appearing jointly with Gen Martin Dempsey, Chairman Joint Chiefs Staff.
In answer to a question, he emphasised that the US and Pakistan should work together to curb cross-border activities and referred to this week’s meeting between US top commander in Afghanistan General John Allen and Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. “After all, they too have been the victim of terrorism. They lost 17 Pakistanis on a patrol to TTP. And so everyday they too are the victims of terrorism. So we have a common enemy. It would make sense if we could work together to confront that common enemy,” the defence secretary said.
Panetta’s remarks were significant for a marked tone-down in Washington’s recent statements. The positive tone by both sides this week indicate they are finally inching toward progress on resolution to some issues between the two allies.
Meanwhile, Pakistani diplomats in Washington, led by Ambassador Sherry Rehman, have been reaching out to the US Congress to convey Pakistan’s perspective on counterterrorism issues and also listen to American lawmakers’ views on some of the divisive issues.
Islamabad has asked Washington to apologise over Salala border posts airstrikes on November 26, 2011, which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, to pave the way for repairing the strained ties and restoration of key Pakistani land routes that transport essential NATO supplies into landlocked Afghanistan.
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