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With Improved Ties, Pakistan Gets $1.18B From US

ISLAMABAD -- Pakistan received $1.18 billion from the United States for counterinsurgency operations, Islamabad said Thursday, in a sign of improving ties, days after an agreement was signed to allow supplies for foreign troops in Afghanistan to be transported through Pakistan.

The money -- reimbursed to Pakistan for the cost of its fight against militants, according to the finance ministry -- had been withheld by the U.S. because of tensions over the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in November in a NATO attack on the Afghan-Pakistan border and the subsequent blockade of NATO supplies by Islamabad.

Pakistani Finance Ministry spokesman Rana Asad Amin said his government had claimed the reimbursement of $2.5 billion against expenses of ongoing military operations that had been overdue since May 2011.

"The U.S. has cleared bills worth $1.18 billion dollars, and the money was transferred to the National Bank of Pakistan's New York branch on Wednesday," Amin said.

The transfer was made possible by the inking of an agreement Tuesday authorizing NATO supplies to flow through Pakistan until Dec. 31, 2015. It could be extended for one year after consultations.

The agreement allows the supply of food and medicines and other humanitarian goods but bars the transfer of lethal weapons.

The agreement and money transfer is seen as a way to improve ties that have been strained since the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan by U.S. forces in a covert raid in May 2011.

Pakistan halted the transport of NATO supplies through its territory for seven months, restoring them in July and removing a major hurdle to the normalization of relations.

The head of Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency, Lieutenant General Zaheer ul Islam, arrived in Washington Wednesday on a three-day visit in the first high-level trip since the border attack. He is to discuss security matters with his counterpart in the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, David Petraeus.

U.S. Gen. John Allen, the commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, also arrived in Pakistan Thursday on a day-long trip to discuss security issues with Pakistani military leaders.

He is to call on General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Pakistan's army chief, an army spokesman said. Among the topics to be discussed was border coordination measures, he said.

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