Pak,US hold talks over supply routes, no decision

Islamabad: Pakistan and the US today held crucial talks on ending a six-month blockade of supplies for foreign troops in Afghanistan but failed to take a final decision on reopening the supply lines that were closed after a NATO attack.

Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Khan was quoted by state-run media as saying that a final decision regarding the reopening of NATO supply routes had not been made. Khan said talks between Pakistan and the US on the issue will continue. The Pakistani delegation at the talks was led by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar while Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides headed the US team.

Gen John Allen, the commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, also participated in the talks. The American team has held talks with Pakistan`s military and political leadership on various issues, including the NATO supply routes, spokesman Khan said. It is the desire of both countries to normalise their relations at the earliest and "positive progress" has been made in this regard, he said.

Allen arrived in Islamabad last night shortly after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke on phone to new Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, triggering speculation that the two countries were close to a deal on reopening the supply routes. Allen, who is in Pakistan for the second time within a week, met army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani last night and discussed several issues, including the reopening of the supply lines. Pakistan shut the supply routes in November last year after a cross-border NATO air strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.