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After Apology, Pakistan Agrees To Reopen Military Supply Line, Says Clinton

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton apologized for the "for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military" during a NATO airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani troops.

When announcing the apology, the AP reports, Clinton also said that Pakistan was reopening a crucial military supply line into Afghanistan. Pakistan had closed its border to the coalition forces since the attack in November.

The road to this resolution has been fraught with conflict. In a lot of ways, it came to a head at the NATO summit in Chicago in May. President Obama and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari were not able to hammer out a deal to reopen the supply line.

In June, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta made uncharacteristically candid comments about the relationship between the countries.

As we reported, Panetta said that American officials were "reaching the limits of our patience" with Pakistan "because that nation continues to allow terrorists to use its territory 'as a safety net in order to conduct ... attacks on our forces.'"

Days after those comments, the U.S. pulled its team of negotiators from Pakistan.

Reuters reports that Clinton said her Pakistani counterpart told her Pakistan will reopen the border and "continue not to charge a transit fee for land-supply routes."

Update at 3:42 p.m. ET. Sorry For The Mistakes:

During a press conference, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland was pressed for details on what is being portrayed by most media as an apology.

"The statement speaks for itself," Nuland said. "The words are all there and I'm not going to improve on it here."

Nuland, however, added: "There were mistakes on both sides that led to the tragic loss of life and we are both sorry for those."

Nuland also clarified that Pakistan agreed not to impose "additional fees."

Update at 12:57 p.m. ET. 'Sorry For The Losses':

In the statement released by the State Department, Clinton says she spoke to Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar by telephone today.

"I once again reiterated our deepest regrets for the tragic incident in Salala last November," Clinton said. "I offered our sincere condolences to the families of the Pakistani soldiers who lost their lives. Foreign Minister Khar and I acknowledged the mistakes that resulted in the loss of Pakistani military lives. We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military."

She said Pakistan's decision to reopen the ground supply lines into Afghanistan show "Pakistan's support for a secure, peaceful, and prosperous Afghanistan and our shared objectives in the region."

Update at 12:49 p.m. ET. Closure Hurts Relationship:

The Pakistani paper Dawn has this statement from Pakistan's prime minister:

"'The continued closure of supply lines not only impinge(s) on our relationship with the US, but also on our relations with the 49 other member states of Nato/Isaf,' Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf told senior government and military officials, according a statement issued by his office."

Update at 12:44 p.m. ET. A Bit Of Background:

Just how difficult has this issue been for the two countries? Basically, in different government reports, they have disagreed on just what happened in that November airstrike.

In December, the United States conceded "poor coordination," but said NATO forces had "acted in self-defense and with appropriate force after being fired upon..."

In January, Pakistan officially rejected that explanation saying parts of the U.S. report were "factually not correct."

The Pakistani report called the airstrikes "disproportionate" and "excessive."

The attacks also put the Pakistani government in a tight spot, because its citizens were outraged by the airstrikes.

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.