Kabul, Dec 14: Voicing cautious optimism, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan has said that he's seeing signs of a possible lifting of Pakistan's communications blackout imposed on the US-led coalition after NATO airstrikes killed two dozen Pakistani forces last month.
Marine Gen John Allen revealed for the first time that he spoke on the phone Monday with Pakistan army chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani—their first conversation since just after the airstrikes.
Allen said they both expressed a commitment to work through the incident and try to restore coordination between their forces along the border.
“I do have a sense of progress,” Allen told reporters at a news briefing at Camp Eggers in Kabul, describing the phone call as businesslike and cordial.
“The conversation was clearly about attempting to resolve the issue ... around the border incident, in the sense that, let's restore border coordination so that we can move on.”
He added that he believes Pakistan will soon restore its liaison officers, who were pulled after the Nov 26 incident, to border coordination centres or NATO headquarters in Kabul.
Allen said the two did not discuss when Pakistan would reopen its border crossings to NATO convoys transporting supplies for troops in Afghanistan.
Allen made his comments shortly after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived in Afghanistan unannounced to talk with commanders about the war.
In addition to chilly relations with Pakistan, the US also is grappling with ongoing plans to withdraw tens of thousands of troops in coming months, handover security to Afghan forces and the impact of potentially big budget cuts to the military.