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June 11, 2012

U.S. - Pakistan supply route negotiations are taking a break, but not stalled...

Pentagon Spokesman George Little insists negotiations between Pakistan and the United States over the use of ground routes to supply American and NATO forces have not stalled.

He admits they aren’t going anywhere right now. And he adds that the U.S. negotiating team that was in Pakistan working on reopening the routes that have been closed to the United States since November had left Pakistan. Actually, he said some members left over the weekend, and he thought the rest were leaving soon.

The point, however, is that there is no scheduled resumption of negotiations, so they’re leaving.

The other point, he notes, is that he wouldn’t call the negotiations stalled.

Still, he admits that Defense Sec. Leon Panetta’s stated lack of patience with Pakistan is mostly about the continuation of things like the Haqqani Network and the fact that parts of Pakistan remain a safe haven for terrorists. But part of that frustration is the lack of progress on the ground supply routes.

The ground routes, he noted, aren’t needed, in the sense that supplies are getting through.

The US has been getting supplies in by air and what is called the Northern Distribution Network, which run through lots of places, like Russia, and Uzbekistan, and Latvia and Georgia and many more.

But the southern routes are certainly wanted. “It’s always good to have more options,” Little said.

It’s even better to have better options. The shortest Northern routes are five times as long as the longest Pakistan routes. The longer northern routes are more than 10 times as long as the Pakistan routes.

Lt. Gen Curtis Scaparrotti Monday noted the operational value hasn't been overwhelming, “We’ve continued to do our jobs with no impact.”

But the costs are much, much higher.

Estimates run around an extra $30 million and more each month.

Still, despite the lack of progress, lack of hope for progress or improvements in the near term, and growing frustrations, it’s good to know the U.S. doesn‘t consider the negotiations stalled.

Still, one wonders how Little, theoretically, of course, if stuck on the side of the road in a car that isn’t moving and won’t start would describe his vehicle to mechanics.

It’s not stalled.

It isn’t moving and won’t start. And to anyone else, it might look dead.

But there’s hope it might start again at some point in the future, isn't there?

So don’t call it stalled.

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