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    Pakistan insists on apology over Salala raid

    KABUL: Pakistan on Thursday reiterated its position on reopening a key supply route for Afghanistan-based foreign troops, asking NATO to tender a formal apology for last year’s deadly raid.

    After the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in the Mohmand tribal region in a cross-border airstrike by ISAF in November last year, Islamabad slapped a ban on supplies for NATO troops through its territory. 

    Speaking to journalists on the periphery of a regional conference in Kabul, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar made clear Pakistan would consider reopening the supply lines only if the alliance apologised for the strike.   

    While spurning reports that her country was wrangling with the US over transportation fees, she said: “Pakistan still wants an unconditional apology and the reassurance that the Salala-type incident does not recur in the future.”

    Also on Thursday, a spokesman for the foreign ministry in Islamabad said Pakistan had been trying to resolve complicated issues with the United States.

    “These issues have become complicated particularly after the Salala incident and both sides are trying to bring their relationship back on track,” Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Ahmad Khan told a weekly media briefing.

    A day earlier, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said, for the first time, that Pakistan's closure of the supply routes was costing American taxpayers id="mce_marker"00 million a month.

    Speaking in the Senate, Panetta said: "I'd be very careful about just shutting it down. What I would do is look at conditions for what we expect them to do."