Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassou (L), US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar shake hands before a Core Group Ministerial meeting at a hotel in Tokyo on July 8, 2012. – AFP

TOKYO: US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed hope Sunday that Pakistan's recent reopening of Nato supply lines into Afghanistan might lead to a broader rapprochement in US-Pakistani relations after a difficult period for the reluctant allies.    

After attending a 70-nation Afghan aid conference in Tokyo, Clinton met privately with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to discuss reviving the US-Pakistani relationship, which has suffered a series of debilitating crises over the last year-and-a-half but is still seen as critical for the stability of South Asia.

It was their first meeting since Clinton's apology last week for the November killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers by Nato, a move that led to the end of Pakistan's seven-month blockade of the supply routes.

"We are both encouraged that we've been able to put the recent difficulties behind us so we can focus on the many challenges ahead of us," Clinton told reporters.

"We want to use the positive momentum generated by our recent agreement to take tangible steps on our many shared, core interests."

The most important of these, Clinton said, was fighting the militant groups who've used Pakistan as a rear base to attack American troops and jeopardize the future of Afghanistan.

She and Khar "focused on the necessity of defeating the terror networks that threat the stability of both Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as the interests of the United States," Clinton said.

Pakistan's reaction in closing the border cost the US at least $700 million, as it rerouted supplies across more expensive northern routes.

The final bill may have been significantly greater.

Clinton, who joined the Pakistani minister and Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul for a three-way meeting later Sunday, said her discussions with Khar covered stalled Afghan reconciliation efforts. The US is counting on Pakistan to help convince the Taliban and other groups fighting the Afghan government to halt violence and enter into a political dialogue.

They spoke as well about enhancing US-Pakistani economic ties to make it a relationship defined more by trade than aid.    Still, Clinton acknowledged the lingering difficulties hindering US-Pakistani cooperation, without getting into details.    .

Clinton called it a "challenging but essential relationship."

"I have no reason to believe that it will not continue to raise hard questions for us both," she said. "But it is something that is in the interests of the United States as well as the interests of Pakistan."

Updated Jul 08, 2012 06:58am

Comments (23) (Closed)


syed baqar ahsan
Jul 08, 2012 08:25am
Always broad or big laugh or smile on the face of Pakistani leadership when meeting American or westerners do not make sense in diplomatic norms. We Pakistanis are far form maturity.
HADI SAKEY
Jul 08, 2012 08:11am
The word " apology" was not used by Hillary Clinton so please do not use this word in your lines to please the people. She only said "sorry" . Apologize was expected by Pakistan.
Khawar Memon
Jul 08, 2012 11:51am
Foreign policy of Pakistan needs to revived. PAK-US relationship has touched its lowest, now pakistan must expand its domain and look forward for help towards china, iran and turkey.
Qaiser
Jul 08, 2012 11:49am
If any body have better option instead opening NATO Supply, please specify
mark
Jul 08, 2012 09:46am
@ Hadi Sakey ... when you confront a giant( compared to you in all sense), you can make him say 'sorry', if he is decent enough. How in the world can you hope to make him apologize?!
Jay
Jul 08, 2012 12:49pm
Mrs. Khar seems to be doing fine as a foreign minister. Compare with the previous one who was a disaster waiting to happen. Under the circumstances agreement to reopen the supplies are in the best interest of both the countries and Afghanistan. It is sad it took too long to resolve the dispute.
muzammil ullah khan
Jul 08, 2012 09:00am
we don't have to frown do we ? smiling face is always better than a frowning face.
Anand
Jul 08, 2012 09:00am
Q: Did USA accept blame for Salala attack? A: NO Q: Did USA use the word “apology” as is normal in formal apologies? A: NO Q: Did USA agree to pay compensation to “victim” as is usual in state level apology? A: NO Q: Did USA accept to pay Pakistan USD 5.000 per contained instead of USD 250? A: NO, again. Q: In state-to-state relations “apology” is offered in face to face meeting - a normal practice? A: NO Q: Typically apology is given very promptly by the aggressor. Did it happen in this case? A: NO In the transcript she says "we are sorry" and not "I or USA". This clearly means that far from accepting blame (position of victim), USA stands by its position from Nov. 2011, which is – BOTH sides made mistakes leading to the tragedy. There is NOT ONE WORD in the statement which is even close to apology. US rejected majority of assurances from the Parliamentary committee as well, end to drone strikes and undertaking that Salala will not be repeated. The statement says “we are working to make sure…”, bla bla.
Muhammad
Jul 08, 2012 11:11am
and remember a smile increases your face value. At the same time, certain occasions demand serious postures; on this occasion 2 have a broad smile is fine as far as I understand. Who is matured diplomatically here by the way? This issue could have been resolved long ago with little bit of diplomacy.
guru
Jul 08, 2012 11:03am
Well said! Sorry is sympathy, without actually meaning it. Apology is official value, where you accept you made a mistake. Clearly Pakistan bowed down. Clinton statement was a political gimmick.
FM1
Jul 08, 2012 11:02am
The other two are smiling as well, in case you missed it !
Faisal
Jul 08, 2012 11:00am
Q: Did Anand compiled the whole situation in his comments? A: YES or may be NO
MJK
Jul 08, 2012 10:56am
I thought foreign minister's portfolio demanded a vast experience in foreign affairs, required a seasoned diplomat- What is Mrs. Khar's qualification ? We know she belongs to a feudal family of southern Punjab.Evidently a good fit in AAZ's set up.
Abdur Razzaque
Jul 08, 2012 09:38am
Old wine in a new bottle without appropriate language that Pakistan expected for.
Asif
Jul 08, 2012 09:31am
Pakistani Leadersip..afsoos saaad afsooos.
outspoken
Jul 08, 2012 11:38am
Beggars are not choosers.
Ali
Jul 08, 2012 12:29pm
South asia needs to be one. The future is in Asia anyway. Europe is goin down badly. Finally our people are thinking innovatively. Many good examples in Pakistan. india is already an economic power. and struggling its way up. Pakistan must get its independence from US some how. Better join the Russian side.
A B Rasheed
Jul 08, 2012 12:23pm
Pak Foreign Minister looks lacks integrity, a total disaster for the country. Can not we have someone better than her...I am sure there are many intelligent, charismatic and principled people out there in Pakistan. We should stop making politicians, who are by default, landowners, the ministers for such important ministries who can not think for themselves. The minister for such important ministries should be selected on the basis of their principles, integrity, humanity and intellect.
asim
Jul 08, 2012 01:55pm
what else could have been expected by our politicians.
Joe
Jul 08, 2012 02:17pm
Get over it Anand!
citizen
Jul 08, 2012 01:39pm
I would'nt care whether they smile or not as long as they are keeping Pakistani peoples interest supreme in their diplomatic dealings because that is their job...
millerd
Jul 08, 2012 01:34pm
I agree with you whole heartedly. This was a face saving exercise for Pakistan. Since America wanted the NATO supply line open by hook or by crook. Pakistan had to be seen resisting the pressure because the Parliament had passed the new engagement theory. If the government had succumbed to the American pressure PPP would have negated its own Parliament where it is on majority. The second problem was a fear of an immediate backlash of opposition forces.Having no feet to stand on and barely walking on crutches, the government could not risk its survival. The America was adamant not to apologise due to its customary egoistic arrogance. There fore a very flimsy "APOLOGY " was agreed upon. Now I wouldn't like to dwell on this further. Those who believe that apology has been tendered should read the text of Hillary Clinton apology and decide for themselves, but when doing so keep the semantic VALUES of "sorry" and "apology" in mind. Just to put a little perspective to it. According to Cambridge, Oxford or Webster Dictionaries , sorry is used in more informal relationships , the word apology is a standard formal repentance used in bilateral formal relationships between the two sovereign nations. Since when relationships , between the two sovereign countries has begun to be considered informal as to allow the word "Sorry" instead of an" apology " unless the word sovereignty was not an issue. .
sad state of affairs
Jul 08, 2012 01:29pm
It is sad to see corrupt leaders of the south asian countries... We have never gained our independence from the western powers... bowing to them and giving way to their demand. I guess only the strongest prevails and we are not one yet.