The United States is pulling its negotiators from Pakistan, after talks with Pakistani officials on the reopening of NATO supply lines into Afghanistan stalled.
Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters Monday that some members of the negotiating team left Pakistan in recent days and that others will follow shortly. He said “we will continue to have dialogue [and that] while the issue is not resolved — the talking has not stalled.”
Islamabad closed NATO supply lines into Afghanistan last November after U.S. airstrikes mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani troops near the Afghan border.
Pakistani officials demanded an unconditional apology for the cross-border attack. But Washington only offered condolences and Islamabad retaliated by cutting off NATO ground supply routes. The U.S. withdrew as much as $3 billion of promised military aid, as relations with Pakistan deteriorated.
The attack also prompted Pakistan’s parliament to review its future engagement with the United States, with lawmakers calling for an end to U.S. drone strikes on Pakistani soil.
U.S. officials had hoped Pakistan would reopen the routes prior to last month’s NATO summit on Afghanistan.
Pentagon spokesman Little said Monday the U.S. negotiating team’s departure from Pakistan “for a short period of time” should “not be taken as a sign of our unwillingness to continue this dialogue with Pakistanis on this issue.”