Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's apology to Pakistan for the accidental deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers last November at the hands of U.S. forces was touted as a "breakthrough" Tuesday by Pakistan's new ambassador to the United States.
The Obama administration said the condolences offered by Clinton were part of an arrangement that will allow critical supply routes from Pakistan to Afghanistan to be reopened.
Pakistani Ambassador Sherry Rehman said, "We are playing our role as responsible global partner in stabilizing the region. We appreciate Secretary Clinton's statement, and hope that bilateral ties can move to a better place from here. I am confident that both countries can agree on many critical issues, especially on bringing peace to the region."
November's cross border shooting drove a wedge between the two nations and led to seven months of difficulty for NATO, as supplies to Afghanistan had to be re-routed by air and through the northern corridor at higher costs.
Clinton expressed her condolences regarding the deaths in a telephone conversation with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.
"We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military," Clinton said in a statement, recounting her discussion with Khar. "I offered our sincere condolences to the families of the Pakistani soldiers who lost their lives."
The Afghan-Pakistani Ground Lines of Communication's (GLOC) are the main NATO supply routes along the Pakistani Afghan border. Those routes were used by NATO forces to move essential supplies to troops at one-tenth the price of using air supply, according to reports.
U.S. intelligence personnel, mainly CIA, were also asked to leave the remote Shamsi airbase within 15 days after the incident. The base was used by the U.S. with the permission of the Pakistani government to conduct drone attacks against insurgents in the region.
Senior Pakistani government officials noted that their decisions to shut out NATO and the U.S. "were dictated by Pakistan's principled stance on the issue of sovereignty, which should be respected at all costs and in accordance with the United Nations Charter and international law."
However, the Defense Committee "stressed that it was in Pakistan's interest to support the transition and the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. To enable a smooth transition in Afghanistan, Pakistan should facilitate NATO/US/ISAF drawdown at a lower cost and through an efficient transit facility."
The Pakistani Defense official said that a sincere apology from the U.S. for the deaths of the soldiers "was a major piece of the puzzle in resolving the crisis."
Sara A. Carter is The Washington Examiner's national security correspondent. She can be reached at email@example.com.