Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton apologized to Pakistan today for the killing of 24 Pakistani troops last fall and won in return the reopening of critical NATO supply lines into Afghanistan. The agreement ends a seven-month standoff and could save the US hundreds of millions of dollars in war costs. The first trucks carrying NATO goods should move across the border tomorrow, but it could take days to ramp up supplies to pre-attack levels.
"We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military," Clinton said, recounting a telephone conversation she had with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. "I offered our sincere condolences to the families of the Pakistani soldiers who lost their lives." The accord should help improve frayed ties between the US and Pakistan, but it carries risks for both governments. It threatens to make Pakistan's already fragile civilian leadership look subservient to the United States, while offering fodder to Republicans who contend that President Obama says "sorry" too easily.