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NATO Trucks Held Up at Pak Crossing

Pakistani officials said Monday that a ban on NATO trucks at the main border crossing into Afghanistan will last until the government promises to safeguard security.

Officials closed the northwestern Torkham crossing, the quickest route to the Afghan capital Kabul from the port of Karachi, to NATO traffic on Thursday, just weeks after lifting a seven-month blockade on NATO trucks going into Afghanistan.

The Pakistani Taliban have vowed to attack NATO supplies and last Tuesday, one of the truck drivers was shot dead in the northwestern town of Jamrud.

The suspension comes with the head of Pakistani intelligence, Lieutenant General Zaheer ul-Islam, due to hold talks with CIA chief David Petraeus in Washington this week, the first such talks for a year.

"The security plan by the political administration, police and Frontier Corps (a paramilitary force) is being prepared and once it is finalised and approved, NATO trucks will be allowed to pass," Bakhtiar Khan, a local administration official, told AFP.

Authorities in the northwest say they wrote to the federal government 11 days ago, asking them to finalise a security plan as soon as possible.

"But so far we have not received any response," information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain told AFP from the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Federal government officials were not immediately available to comment.

Islamabad closed its land routes to NATO convoys after US air strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on November 26, but on July 3 agreed to reopen them after Washington said sorry for the deaths.

At Pakistan's southwestern crossing into Afghanistan, officials said no restrictions have been placed on NATO supply trucks, but that traffic had thinned.

"Fifty-eight trucks are parked at Chaman awaiting clearance from Afghan officials," clearing agent Ashraf Khan told AFP.

In Karachi, many truckers won't leave without security guarantees and compensation, said Akram Khan Durrani, president of the All Pakistan Oil Tankers Owners Association.

"Until that, we are not going anywhere," he told AFP.

"It is too dangerous to take our vehicles out without solid guarantees. The situation has changed dangerously as many political and religious groups are against it and the Taliban could strike anywhere if we have no security."

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