Top U.S. commander plays down urgency of Pak-NATO route reopening deal
Chicago, May 21 (ANI): A top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said he would not be disappointed if a long-sought agreement with Pakistan on the reopening of NATO supply routes failed to materialise by the end of the NATO Summit in Chicago on Monday.
Marine General John Allen, who is also the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, said he is confident a deal would eventually be struck but "whether it's in days or weeks, I don't know", The Express Tribune quoted him, as saying.
"We don't want an agreement fast, we want an agreement that's right. So we're going to take the time to get it right," General Allen was quoted, as saying.
"I don't need the (ground supply lines) to be open to support the campaign. But they're helpful to us in sending home our equipment," he added.
Many U.S. officials had hoped for an agreement with Islamabad in time for the Sunday-Monday summit that would end a nearly six-month ban prohibiting trucks in Pakistan from carrying supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Pakistan had cut off the ground supply routes after a NATO air strike in November killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
The summit comes as NATO allies seek to extricate themselves from a long and costly war without surrendering an unstable, violent Afghanistan back to militants intent on attacking the West.
Allen said he believes the summit in Chicago will demonstrate a long-term commitment to Afghanistan's military, allowing NATO to avoid making the same mistake that the Soviet Union did after its withdrawal more than two decades ago.
"After the Soviet Union departed Afghanistan, that army survived for a short period of time. But it was unsupported. And unsupported, it eventually collapsed," Allen said, pointing to the ensuing civil war and rise of the Taliban.
"The trajectory we are on right now, I am confident, will prevent history from repeating itself," he added. (ANI)
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