Washington: US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has vowed not to let Washington be `gouged` by Islamabad on the price it wants to charge for overland deliveries of American military supplies to Afghanistan.
According to The Express Tribune, Panetta, refusing to agree to an ``unreasonable`` price of 5000 dollars per container, said, "We`re not about to get gouged in the price. We want a fair price."
Pakistan had closed the NATO supplies routes in November last year after a US air raid in Mohmand Agency killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
US defense officials have said the Pakistanis are demanding 5000 dollars for every truck crossing its border with the supplies, which was 250 dollars per truck before the closure.
Pakistani officials have justified the demand of 5,000 dollars per container, saying it is "neither irrational nor out of the blue". They added that nearly a decade of cooperation without any infrastructure-related charges had ruined Pakistan`s roads.
The infrastructure was used for eight years without paying any charges. In the ninth year, the US started paying a nominal handling fee of 250 dollars per container to the National Logistic Cell, Pakistan Army`s logistics arm, officials said.
Panetta also admitted that relations with Pakistan were `complicated`.
"This has been one of the most complicated relationships that we`ve had, working with Pakistan. You know, we have to continue to work at it. It is important. This is a country that has nuclear weapons," he said.
"So our responsibility here is to keep pushing them to understand how important it is for them to work with us to try to deal with the common threats we both face," he added.