NATO troop supplies set to resume via Pakistan

CHAMAN, Pakistan (AP) — Trucks carrying NATO supplies will resume their routes through Pakistan to Afghanistan on today, following Islamabad’s agreement to end its seven-month blockade, security officials said.

Implementation of the supply line agreement should help patch up the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, which is crucial for American efforts to stabilize Afghanistan, but the two continue to have serious differences.

U.S. officials had expected the trucks to begin crossing into Afghanistan on Wednesday, but bureaucratic delays held that up.

Pakistan agreed to reopen the supply line Tuesday after the U.S. said it was sorry for American airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November. The attack prompted Pakistan to close the route and severely damaged already strained relations between the two countries.

On Wednesday, Pakistan’s Cabinet endorsed the decision to reopen the route, which was made by senior civilian and military officials.

Pakistan’s plan calls for four trucks to enter Afghanistan on Wednesday through the Chaman crossing in southwestern Baluchistan province, according to a Pakistani security document obtained by The Associated Press. Chaman is one of two crossings used to ship NATO supplies to Afghanistan.

One hundred trucks were also set to begin traveling from the southern port city of Karachi to Chaman and Torkham, the site of the other crossing in the northwest Khyber tribal area, according to the document.

The reopening could save the U.S. hundreds of millions of dollars, since Pakistan’s blockade forced Washington to rely more heavily on a longer, costlier route that leads into Afghanistan through Central Asia.

Pakistan is also expected to gain financially, since the U.S. intends to free up $1.1 billion in military aid that has been frozen for the past year.

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