NATO has just asked the Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to attend the May 20-21 summit in Chicago. The AP says the overture signals that the rift between NATO and Islamabad may be coming to a resolution.
If you remember, after an American airstrike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November, Pakistan closed its Western border to Afghanistan, effectively stopping an important supply route for coalition troops.
The AP adds:
“The U.S. expressed regret for the airstrikes and has been quietly pressing Pakistan to reopen the routes over the last two weeks. Washington and NATO stepped up those efforts in recent days by making it clear Islamabad would not be welcome at the two-day summit beginning Sunday in Chicago unless it did so.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen phoned President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday afternoon to invite him to the meeting, according to a statement from the Pakistan government and NATO.
“‘This meeting will underline the strong commitment of the international community to the people of Afghanistan and to its future,’ NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said in Brussels, where the alliance is based. ‘Pakistan has an important role to play in that future.'”
The AFP reports that Pakistan has all but accepted the offer and this marks a “return from the cold for Islamabad, which boycotted the last major international talks on Afghanistan, held in Bonn in December.”
The wire service reports that a cabinet meeting on Wednesday is widely expected to approve the reopening of the supply routes.