Pakistan supply routes row hits Nato summit
How will Nato exit from Afghanistan?
21 May 2012 Last updated at 16:00
A row between the US and Pakistan over supply routes to Afghanistan is threatening to overshadow the summit of Nato leaders in Chicago.
The two sides have been unable to reach agreement on Pakistan’s conditions for reopening the routes, closed after a US air strike killed many troops.
Leaders from more than 50 nations have now begun a key meeting to discuss the future strategy for Afghanistan.
US President Obama said: “As Afghans stand up, they will not stand alone.”
Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, opening Monday’s meeting, confirmed plans to hand over full combat command to Afghan forces by mid-2013.
He also confirmed that Nato-led forces would complete their combat role by the end of 2014.
The nations represented at the summit include heads of state and government from the 28 Nato countries, along with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.
But as the heads hammered out a strategy for Nato’s future involvement, the problem of supply routes from Pakistan remained unresolved, despite a meeting between Mr Zardari and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday evening.
The supply route was closed in November after a US drone attack killed many Pakistani troops.
But in return for reopening the routes, Pakistan has called for:
A public apology for the killings
A review of US policy on drone attacks inside Pakistan
A large increase of the current transit charge of $250 (£158) per vehicle.
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said before the summit that it was “not likely” that the US would be prepared to pay the higher amount demanded by Pakistan.
Correspondents say Mr Obama is unhappy about the fee, given that US is already giving Pakistan large amounts of aid.
US officials say no bilateral meeting is being planned between Mr Zardari and Mr Obama.
In its summit declaration, Nato simply says it “continues to work with Pakistan to reopen the ground lines of communication as soon as possible”.
It adds: “The countries in the region, particularly Pakistan, have important roles in ensuring enduring peace, stability and security in Afghanistan and in facilitating the completion of the transition process.
“We stand ready to continue dialogue and practical cooperation with relevant regional actors in this regard.”
In his remarks ahead of the Afghan meeting, Mr Obama said the Nato mission was “truly international”.
He said: “The region and the world have a profound interest in an Afghanistan that is stable, secure and not a source of attacks on other nations.”
Mr Obama said important progress had been made.
He said: “We have broken the Taliban’s momentum. Afghans have grown stronger and the transition is well under way.”
One key issue for discussion will be the funding of the transition.
Nato says it is continuing dialogue to try to resolve the Pakistan supply issue
Some nations – including the US, Australia, Britain, and Germany – have pledged to contribute to an international fund to help Afghan forces after the Nato pullout.
Washington is expected to pay half of an estimated $4bn (£2.5bn) needed every year.
Differences on troop withdrawals will also have to be hammered out.
France that its troops will return by the end of 2012.
President Francois Hollande said the issue was “non-negotiable because it was a question of French sovereignty”.
More than 10 years after the US toppled the Taliban regime, violence is continuing unabated in Afghanistan. According to UN figures, the number of deaths reached a record 3,031 in 2011 – the great majority caused by militants.