New York: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had discussed with her Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar the "language" of her statement apologising for the death of 24 Pakistani soldiers in a cross-border NATO air raid while she was working on its draft during the last several weeks.

Ending a bitter seven-month row between the two nations, Clinton issued a statement on Tuesday in which she reiterated America's "deepest regrets" and said: "sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military," in the attack that brought relations between US and Pakistan to all time low.

Following the apology, Pakistan agreed to re-open the NATO supply routes into Afghanistan that it had closed in retaliation of the attacks.

People with knowledge of the process as saying that Clinton began working on drafts of the statement she released on Tuesday several weeks ago.

At one point she even began discussing the language of the statement with Khar, a person with knowledge about the process said. "This was jointly done," said the person.

"It was Clinton's increasingly cordial relationship with the young Pakistani foreign minister that paid dividends in resolving the dispute," American officials said, adding that while the State Department had issued the statement, it had been coordinated with Clinton's Pakistani counterpart Khar.

The stalemate had threatened to jeopardise counter-terror cooperation, complicated US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and forced America to pay more than a billion dollars extra shipping fees to use an alternative route through Central Asia to get the NATO supplies into Afghanistan.

Pakistani officials said they had misjudged NATO's ability to adapt to the closing of the supply routes and use the alternative route, which was costing up to an extra USD 100 million a month.


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