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Pakistani Taliban issue threats over reopening of NATO supply routes

From Nasir Habib, For CNN
July 4, 2012 -- Updated 0959 GMT (1759 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Taliban have attacked NATO supplies and killed drivers and other crew in the past
  • Transporters who resume supplies will be "considered a friend of the U.S.," Taliban say
  • A day before the threats, Islamabad decided to reopen the supply routes shut down in November

(CNN) -- The Pakistani Taliban on Wednesday threatened to attack NATO trucks after Islamabad and the U.S. agreed to reopen routes used for supplies to coalition forces in Afghanistan.

The militant group said the supplies are used to target its members fighting against occupation in Afghanistan.

Transporters who resume supplies will be "considered a friend of the U.S." and will face the consequences,a spokesman for the militant group said.

Taliban have attacked NATO supplies in the past, and killed drivers and other crew.

Pakistan has a new prime minister

A day before the threats, Islamabad decided to reopen the routes shut down in November when coalition forces mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani troops.

The incident plunged U.S.-Pakistan relations to an all-time low, prompting Islamabad to shut down the crucial supply route.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton apologized for the attack Tuesday. Until her apology, the U.S. government had only expressed regret over the incident, but had not issued a direct apology.

Pakistan's federal Cabinet on Wednesday endorsed the decision by the Defense Committee of the Cabinet -- the top civilian and military leadership -- to reopen the NATO supplies route.

However, the main Islamist political party in the nation decried the reopening, saying it plans to meet Wednesday to discuss the issue.

"These people are cowards," said Syed Munawar Hasan, the president of Jamat-e-Islami, referring to the military leadership that made the decision.

The U.S. military will pay Pakistan $1.1 billion it owes as part of the deal struck to reopen the NATO supply lines, according to U.S. officials who had knowledge of the agreement's details but were not authorized to speak publicly.

The money is part of a U.S. military program that reimburses the Pakistani military for counterterrorism efforts. The U.S. halted paying the bills from Pakistan as tension rose between the two countries.

The Pentagon will consult with Congress about paying the bills prior to paying Pakistan in full, according to one of the U.S. officials.

CNN's Chris Lawrence and Jill Dougherty contributed to this report.

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