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Ball in Pak court on resumption of negotiations: US

Washington: As the US pulled out its negotiating team out of Pakistan, the Obama Administration said it is now up to Islamabad to resume negotiations on reopening of the supply routes to Afghanistan.

"Most of the technical arrangements have been worked out, but there are still several issues outstanding. We believe that all can be resolved, and we remain ready to conclude this agreement as soon as Pakistan is ready," the White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, told reporters at his daily news conference.

"We are prepared to conclude this agreement when the Pakistani government is ready to do so," he said. "We saw it as the right move to withdraw…those technical consultations have been completed largely, and so it was determined that they could return home," he added.

"We are ready to send officials back to Islamabad when the Pakistani government is ready to conclude the agreement. And it certainly remains our goal to complete an agreement as soon as possible, and I would note that the Pakistani government has said the same thing," he said in response to a question.

The Pakistani government has said that they want this agreement concluded, and the US looks forward to that taking place, he said. "I think there are still some remaining issues that need to be resolved, but they do not require the kind of technical people that were involved in the GLOC consultations for the past 45 days," he said.

At another news conference, the State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, said in general US and Pakistan have made some progress. "We have had some agreement in some areas, but it`s relatively clear what the issues of disagreement that still need to be worked on. And I think both sides are going to take some counsel, and then we`ll see what we can get back to," she said.

This was echoed by the Pentagon too. "The members of the team that are leaving, or have left, are prepared to return to Islamabad at any moment to continue discussions in person", the Pentagon Press Secretary, George Little, told reporters during an off camera news conference.

Little said he thinks there is agreement, in concept, that the supply routes can be reopened. "Both sides would like to be able to reopen the ground supply routes. There are some specific issues that need to [be] worked through," he said.

The negotiating team was in Pakistan to ensure opening up of NATO supply routes to Afghanistan which was blocked by Islamabad following the November 26 cross-border air strike that resulted in the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers. That incident had brought down the US-Pak ties to its lowest level with Pakistan demanding an unconditional apology from the US. However, the Obama administration has refused to do so.

According to media reports, Pakistan had demand USD 5,000 for each truck carrying supplies across its territory for NATO troops in Afghanistan. However, it was brought down to about USD 1,800-2,000 during negotiations.

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