Panetta rules out much-awaited apology for Pak saying 'time to move on'
Washington, June 22 (ANI): U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has ruled out an apology over an air strike in Salala last year that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and set back efforts to improve U.S.-Pakistani ties, saying it was "time to move on."
Pakistan banned trucks from carrying NATO supplies into Afghanistan after the air strike, a move that costs U.S. taxpayers 100 million dollars a month given the need to use more expensive, longer routes.
Pakistan is seeking an unconditional apology from the U.S. for the Salala incident and it wants to impose high tariffs on NATO supplies.
However, Panetta, suggested that past expressions of regret and condolences were enough and held out hope that troubled talks on re-opening Pakistani supply routes for the NATO war effort could succeed anyway, reported a news agency.
"We've made clear what our position is, and I think it's time to move on. If we keep going back to the past, if we keep beating up each other based on past differences, we'll never get anywhere," Panetta said.
"The time now is to move forward with this relationship, on the (supply routes), on the safe havens, on dealing with terrorism - on dealing with the issues that frankly both of us are concerned about," Panetta added.
Panetta, while in Kabul recently, had commented that the U.S. was "losing patience" with Pakistan because of the safe havens the country offered to insurgents fighting in neighboring Afghanistan.
"It is difficult to achieve peace in Afghanistan as long as there is safe haven for terrorists in Pakistan. We have made this very clear and do this again: we are reaching the limits of our patience," Panetta had said.
Panetta had also said that drone attacks in Pakistan would continue as long as America needs to defend itself against terrorist threats.
Panetta's remarks had come just two days after a drone strike killed Al-Qaeda's second-in-command, Abu Yahya al Libi, in Pakistan. (ANI)
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