WASHINGTON, Oct 5 (Saba) -- US Defense Department affirmed on Tuesday that the closing of a key border crossing on the Afghan-Pakistani border will not affect military relations between Washington and Islamabad, according to Kuwait News Agency (KUNA).
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told described in a press briefing the closed passageway as "the ground lines of communication into Afghanistan and the attacks on some of the fuel convoys, those obviously do very much involve our equities and are of concern to us." Yet, he declined to draw any connection between the closing of the gate and the attacks saying that "we are working with the Pakistani government on reopening. We have been given indications that we are making progress on that front and hope to have the gate reopened as soon as possible." Pakistan closed the Khyber Pass supply route for US and NATO troops after a coalition helicopter attack mistakenly killed three Pakistani soldiers at a border post last Thursday causing tensions in the relationship between the two countries while both sides opened an investigation in the incident.
Morrell further remarked that the Chaman gate, which is another major passageway from Pakistan into Afghanistan, "remains open and has remained open. We obviously have a number of supply lines from the north as well, which provide us the ability to keep resupplying our forces." It was the third time in less than a week that NATO troops while pursuing militants and firing on them have crossed over the Pakistani border from their bases in Afghanistan. Islamabad had warned after the earlier strikes that it would stop allowing NATO convoys to cross if the incident occurs again.
"We want to get it reopened. We want to make sure the supply lines are protected and that this fuel can go from the ships that bring it into Karachi and then up through Pakistan and into Afghanistan without incident," noted Morrell.
"It is in the Pakistanis' interest to do this, this is a huge commercial enterprise for them, and they do not get paid until that fuel is delivered to the point of destination in Afghanistan. So they have incentive to protect the convoys, to make sure that the situation is such that they can get to their destination safely," he added.
Morrell affirmed that this incident did not affect US-Pakistani military relations noting that "we have continued to work closely with the Pakistani military throughout the aftermath of this incident" and the relationship "continues despite these setbacks."
|more of (International)|