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Obama expresses frustration with Pak over NATO supply route reopening


May 22, 2012 - Chicago

U.S. President Barack Obama, during the NATO Summit in Chicago, made clear his frustration over Pakistan's adamancy over the reopening of NATO supply routes to Afghanistan.

Obama expressed his frustration by publicly thanking Russia and other Central Asian countries for providing "critical transit" of war supplies into Afghanistan in the six months since Pakistan closed its ground routes following U.S. air strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Obama chose to ignore Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, who sat only a few feet away from him, and pointedly did not mention Pakistan and had initially refused to meet him one-on-one, the paper states.

He also made no attempt to downplay the strained relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan which has been unstable since the U.S. raided the military garrison town of Abbottabad last May to kill Osama Bin Laden.

"We need to work through some of the tensions (with Pakistan). I don't want to paper over real challenges," Obama was quoted, as saying.

Obama said his staff members had known before they arrived in Chicago for the Summit that the dispute over access to supply lines would not be resolved.

U.S. officials said NATO had invited Zardari to the summit at the last minute, hoping a high-profile meeting with Obama might provide an incentive for a deal on resuming supply shipments.

"The invitation was an inducement to get them back into the international fold. But the Pakistanis couldn't get their own act together," said a senior U.S. official.

To lower the tensions, the White House had announced that Obama had held a brief meeting with Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and rushed out a picture of them together. However, Obama did not describe the discussion in either warm or positive terms.

"It was very brief as we were walking into the summit," Obama said.

ANI

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