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US army commander to visit Pakistan: report

February 07, 2012

General James Mattis, the head of the US military's Central Command. — AFP File photo

NEW YORK: A top American military commander is expected to travel Pakistan this month in an effort to repair United States' strategic relationship with Pakistan which was frozen for more than two months.

The New York Times Tuesday, citing Obama administration officials, reported that General James Mattis, the head of the US military's Central Command, will meet General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Pakistan Army chief of staff, to discuss the investigations of Nato's attack on Pakistani posts near Afghan border that killed 24 soldiers, as well as new border coordination procedures to prevent recurrence of the episode.

The newspaper said in a dispatch from Washington that General Mattis's visit, the first by a high-ranking US official since the cross -border confrontation in November, was to have begun Thursday, but has been postponed by at least a week pending what is expected to be a spirited debate in Pakistan's Parliament over a new security policy toward the United States.

The dispatch cited Pakistani officials as saying they will probably reopen Nato supply lines running through their territory, which have been closed for more than two months.

The State Department is supporting a proposal circulating in the US administration to issue a formal apology for the deaths of the Pakistani soldiers in the Nato strikes.

“We've felt an apology would be helpful in creating some space,” an unnamed US official who has been briefed on the State Department's view was quoted as saying by the Times.