Washington: After a tense seven month stand-off, Pakistan has allowed two US military liaison officers back on its turf, a move largely seen as a small but "significant" sign of cooperation.
Denying reports that American trainers are back in Pakistan, the Pentagon yesterday clarified that it was two liaison officers, who had returned to Peshawar for coordination purposes, after being removed following a deadly cross-border NATO raid.
"What has happened in just the last week or so has been the return of a couple liaison officers from Regional Command-East. They're at the Bagram in eastern Afghanistan.
"A couple of liaison officers have returned to the area around Peshawar to coordinate and continue to liaise with the 11th Corps headquarters there," Pentagon spokesman, Navy Captain, John Kirby, told reporters at a news conference.
The 11th Corps is chief command of Pakistan military.
He said the two liaison officers were removed from their posting in Peshawar right after the November incident, in which 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed in a NATO cross-border attack.
"And then they have now returned," he said and termed it as a significant development.
"I mean, it's significant in that, as we've been talking about all along, that the tactical and operational coordination between the ISAF and Pakistani military is getting better, in fits and starts to be sure, but it is getting better.
"This is another example of how that coordination is going to continue to improve," he said.
"It is the same number of liaison officers we had before, it's just that now they're back and the whole purpose is to increase and improve communications along that whole border," he told reporters during a Pentagon news conference.
Mr Kirby said this is part of a quid pro quo or negotiation process with Pakistan.
"It has been something that obviously we were interested in renewing and this is being done, and I might add, at the Pakistanis' request. I mean, they requested that these two liaison officers come back," he said.
However, no trainers are being sent right now, he clarified.
"The small number of trainers that were there were at the Pakistanis' request and invitation for a requirement they believe they needed to fill. They have not determined that that requirement exists anymore so there are no trainers," he said.
Story first published:
June 01, 2012 19:30 IST