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Pakistan reopens a supply route to U.S. troops

Officials had blocked it in response to militant attacks on convoys.

November 17, 2008|Associated Press

KHYBER PASS, PAKISTAN — Container trucks and oil tankers bound for U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan resumed deliveries through the Khyber Pass today under armed escort.

Militant attacks on convoys with little or no security detail had prompted Pakistan to block the crucial supply route temporarily.

The travel ban in northwest Pakistan, confirmed Sunday, was intended to allow for a review of security in the pass. The truck convoys carry food, fuel and other supplies into Afghanistan.

Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters are behind much of the escalating violence along the lengthy, porous Afghan-Pakistan border.

On Nov. 10 near the Khyber Pass, dozens of suspected Taliban militants hijacked several trucks whose load included Humvees heading to U.S.-led coalition troops.

U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization officials in Afghanistan have sought to downplay threats to the convoys coming through Pakistan, but NATO has said it is close to striking pacts with Central Asian countries that would let it transport "nonlethal" supplies from north of Afghanistan.

A Pakistani official who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media said Sunday that authorities planned to offer paramilitary Frontier Corps escorts to trucks carrying supplies for troops in Afghanistan.

He did not say when this would happen.

Meanwhile, Afghan President Hamid Karzai offered Sunday to provide security for reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar if he agrees to enter peace talks, and he said the U.S. and other Western forces could leave the country or oust him if they disagreed.

Karzai has long supported drawing the Taliban, whose government led by Omar was ousted by U.S.-led troops seven years ago, into the political mainstream on the condition that they accept the country's constitution.

Karzai has said that Omar lives in Pakistan, an allegation dismissed by Pakistani officials.

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