U.S. Hopes Pakistan Will Open Supply Lines in ‘Very Near Future’
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 15, 2012 Pentagon officials hope the Pakistani government will reopen the ground supply lines into Afghanistan “in the very near future,” George Little, acting assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, said today.
George E. Little, left, acting assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, and Navy Capt. John F. Kirby, Pentagon spokesman, brief the press on new developments with the F-22 Raptor and other current Defense Department issues at the Pentagon, May 15, 2012. DOD photo by Glenn Fawcett
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
During a Pentagon news conference, Little said a U.S. team has been in discussions with Pakistani officials since the government closed the border crossings in November 2011. “We are hopeful that in the very near future they will be reopened,” he said. “They are important supply routes for us.”
Pakistan closed the routes, known as ground lines of communication, after a Nov. 26 incident in which American troops came under fire from Pakistan. U.S. forces returned fire and killed 21 Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan responded by closing the main overland supply routes for U.S. and NATO forces into Afghanistan.
U.S. logistics specialists quickly shifted to other means to supply the forces, but the routes through Pakistan are considered the most direct and most cost-effective.
Other aspects of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship were not affected. “We continue to work closely with the Pakistanis to renew our relationship that gets over some of the obstacles that we faced in the past,” Little said.
The United States and Pakistan share common threats, concerns and interests, the assistant secretary said. “Terrorism is a common concern that both the United States and Pakistan face,” he said. “The same terrorists that come after us go after Pakistanis and have been responsible for the deaths of thousands of Pakistanis.”
Little and Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. John Kirby also discussed counterterrorism in Yemen. U.S. service members continue to work with Yemeni personnel against al-Qaida and other terror groups in the country, Little said.
“They have taken aggressive action in their own country against militants who want to plan attacks against Yemenis and plan attacks on the United States and other countries,” he said. “We believe the government of Yemen has taken on in a decisive manner the need to go after militants inside the country."
U.S. service members do conduct operations with the Yemenis to get after terrorist targets, Kirby said. “But a large part of our effort is to help them build the capacity to do it themselves,” he added.