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Pakistan-U.S. relations remain stuck

ISLAMABAD -- American attempts to rebuild a relationship with Pakistan appear to be stuck on the issue of a U.S. apology for killing 24 Pakistani border troops last November.

Officials from the United States visited Pakistan on Friday for talks on rebooting the relationship but left with no agreement. A statement Saturday from the Pakistani president's office said Asif Ali Zardari told those officials that Washington needed to help Pakistan reach "closure" over the killings of the soldiers on the Afghan border, by following recommendations from the Pakistani parliament.

The parliament has asked Washington to apologize. The United States has expressed regret, but has declined to specifically say it is sorry.

Pakistan shut U.S. and NATO supply lines to Afghanistan to protest the deadly U.S. airstrikes, cut most contacts with Washington and ordered American drone aircraft to leave a base in the south of the country. The United States wants Pakistan to reopen the supply lines, preferably ahead of a May 20-21 summit of NATO leaders in Chicago.

The Defense Department has said U.S. forces -- given the information available to them at the time -- reacted in self-defense and with appropriate force after being fired upon from the direction of the Pakistani border in the Nov. 26 incident.

Pakistan used the border incident to try to extract better terms from Washington, which sees Pakistan as an essential -- if unreliable -- ally against al-Qaida and vital to sustaining any peace deal with insurgents in Afghanistan.

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