(ISLAMABAD) — Five months after U.S. war jets killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan border, top military commanders from both sides are finally talking again in what could be a big step forward in repairing frayed relations.
Islamabad is still furious over the “friendly fire” incident last November, which it blames completely on the U.S. and NATO. The Pentagon maintains that the mistakes made must be shared and while President Obama has sent his regrets about the loss of Pakistani lives, he has not offered an unconditional apology.
In response, Pakistan shut off routes through its country into Afghanistan, which NATO used to transport major supplies to coalition forces.
On Wednesday, Gen. John Allen, commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, regional boss Gen. James Mattis and Pakistani army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani met for the first time in Rawalpindi to discuss a possible U.S. apology and ways to improve conditions in the generally lawless border area.
It’s expected that besides a mea culpa from the White House, Pakistan will ask for an end to unmanned drone strikes in the northwest region used as a refuge by the Taliban and al Qaeda and more compensation for reopening the supply routes.
Ultimately, it will be up to the Pakistani parliament to set the conditions for rekindled relations with the U.S. and then, a decision by the Obama administration to determine if its ally is asking for too much.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Steve Visser and Masoud Popalzai, CNN
Barbie Latza Nadeau, Tim Hume and Vasco Cotovio, CNN
Ray Sanchez, CNN