The U.S.-Pakistani relationship remains challenging for both despite the reopening of Pakistani land routes to resupply U.S. troops in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Sunday.
Clinton last week apologised for a November NATO air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and Islamabad responded by reopening the overland supply routes that are crucial to the U.S-led war in Afghanistan.
The supply route deal removed one headache, but ties are likely to remain strained by other differences. These include Pakistan's opposition to U.S. drone strikes aimed at militants on its territory and Washington's allegations that Islamabad condones, or even assists, anti-American fighters.
Speaking after she met Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Clinton said both were encouraged they had "put the recent difficulties behind us" but she acknowledged the difficulties in the relationship in blunt terms.
"I have said many times that this is a challenging but essential relationship. It remains so. And I have no reason to believe it will not continue to raise hard questions for us both," Clinton told a news conference in Tokyo, where both officials attended an Afghan donors conference.
"But it is something that I think is in the interests of the United States as well as in the interests of Pakistan."
Clinton said that the top issue she discussed with Khar was "the necessity of defeating the terror networks that threaten the stability of both Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as interests of the United States" and its allies.
U.S. officials regarded the supply routes as particularly important as the United States and its NATO partners plan to withdraw the bulk of the 128,000 soldiers they have deployed in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
Clinton delivered the U.S. apology, long sought by Pakistan, in a telephone conversation with Khar this week. The two pledged to improve relations, which took a nosedive after U.S. forces killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan last year.
After their bilateral talks, Clinton and Khar both met Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rasul, laughing as they staged a three-way handshake for photographers.
The three issued a statement that emphasised their desire for reconciliation between Taliban and the Afghan government.
Country is last in western Balkans to be recommended for travel liberalization
PM Cameron's government says unaccompanied child asylum-seekers 'will be resettled from Greece, Italy and France'
Huseyin Ozgurgun says his government supports reunification talks with Greek Cypriots
'It's going to take more to win. We're gonna win but we all need to do more,' Pentagon chief says
Saudi, Qatar, UAE and Turkey foreign ministers are due to travel to France to discuss situation in Syria
European Commission proposes to lift the visa requirements for Turkish citizens on condition that Ankara fulfils criteria set by the EU
'The defense ministry is taking a range of measures with the aim of countering the build-up of NATO forces in close proximity to Russia's borders,' defense minister says
On Tuesday night NATO has announced that it will allow Israel to open a permanent office at its headquarters in Brussels
Kenyan authorities have uncovered a terror cell Linked to ISIL that is suspected of plotting a “biological attack” on the East African nation and recruiting university students to Libya and Syria.
An Albanian court has sentenced nine defendants to jail sentences of up to 18 years on Tuesday for recruiting people to fight in Syria's civil war.
Agreement 'is continuing to fray, particularly in some areas in and around Aleppo', White House cautions
ISIL had briefly overtaken Tel Skuf in 2014, but town later fell back into hands of peshmerga forces
New data says Sub-Saharan region feeling effects of drought, commodity price shocks
ISIL militants killed a U.S. Navy SEAL in northern Iraq on Tuesday after blasting through Kurdish defenses and overrunning a town in the biggest offensive in the area for months, officials said.
'I hope that by the end of May, when we meet at the G7 summit, the implementation of Greece's programme is positively assessed,' EU president says
Republican front-runner Trump is expected to clinch party’s nomination in California primary in June