By Barbara Starr
The U.S. is withdrawing its negotiating team from Pakistan because after several weeks, the two sides have failed to reach an agreement on re-opening land routes from Pakistan into Afghanistan that have been used to carry supplies for the war.
"We have not reached resolution," said George Little, Pentagon press secretary. He noted that some of the team left Pakistan over the weekend, and others are expected to leave shortly. "We expect others to leave soon unless circumstances change."
The group had been in Pakistan for about six weeks, according to Little.
Little would not say whether the decision to leave came before or after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's remarks last week that the U.S. was running out of patience with Pakistan's safe havens for terrorists including the Haqqani network.Pakistan closed two routes for NATO supplies into Afghanistan last year after a number of Pakistani forces were inadvertently killed along the border in a U.S. strike. Little said the US still hopes to resolve the matter and get an agreement to reopen the border crossings. He noted the U.S. could still supply troops in Afghanistan and complete the withdrawal from Afghanistan by using northern land routes, but added "the more options you have the better."
Pakistan wants to charge new fees for NATO crossings which the U.S. has not agreed to. However "there is an agreement in concept" to reopen the routes, Little said.