Washington: The United States is considering apologising to Pakistan for the November 26 incident that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in a NATO cross-border fire, a media report said on Tuesday.
The report in the New York Times also said that Pentagon is sending a top general to Islamabad for talks with the Pakistani Army leadership in an effort to mend ties.
"The State Department is supporting a proposal circulating in the administration for the United States to issue a formal apology for the deaths of the Pakistani soldiers in the November 26 airstrike by American gunships," the paper said.
"We've felt an apology would be helpful in creating some space," an American official who has been briefed on the State Department's view, was quoted as saying by the daily.
According to the NYT, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) Commander Gen James N Mattis is expected to travel to Pakistan later this month to meet Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to discuss the investigations of November 26 incident as well as new border coordination procedures to prevent a recurrence of the episode.
The November 26 NATO raid resulted in an outrage in Pakistan, with the Government immediately shutting down the crucial NATO supply line to Afghanistan, ordered for the immediate vacation of the secret CIA base in Shamsi and asked American training personnel to leave the country.
Pakistan has been demanding an apology for the incident, which the United States has resisted so far and has been using "deep regret" for the incident that killed 24 soldiers.
The State Department did not comment on the story. According to the NYT, there has been improvement in relationship between the CIA and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of late.
"Intelligence officials from the two countries have resumed discussions about joint targeting, officials here added - probably a reference to CIA-directed drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal belt," the paper said.
The NYT said Pakistani officials are saying that they will soon reopen the NATO supply route to Afghanistan, which has been shut down since November last year.
Pakistan is expected to seek an unspecified tariff on all goods passing through, the newspaper said.
American officials say they are open to paying, but point out that the alternative northern supply route into Afghanistan, through Central Asia, has picked up much of the slack in recent months, it said.
First Published: Tuesday, February 07, 2012, 16:10