The November 2011 border incident was the final straw for Pakistan in a series of escalations between the two countries, including U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan and the Osama bin Laden raid. Afterward, Islamabad shuttered the NATO supply routes into Afghanistan.
Pakistan and U.S. officials have been negotiating to re-open the supply lines, but Pakistan has demanded high fees for trucks, as well as an apology for the November attack.
Panetta told a congressional panel last week that the continued closure of the supply lines is costing the Pentagon nearly $100 million a month to use more expensive routes.
At the same time, Panetta and members of Congress have criticized Pakistan for failing to crack down on terrorists who have safe havens within Pakistan. Friday’s attack on a hotel near Kabul appeared to be launched by the Haqqani Network out of Pakistan, and U.S. Afghan commander Gen. John Allen said the militants had operated out of the “safety of Pakistan.”
Panetta, speaking in India earlier this month on a trip through Asia, said the United States was “reaching the limits of our patience,” with Pakistan.
In the Reuters interview Thursday, Panetta said that the relationship with Pakistan was “complicated and frustrating,” but ultimately necessary.
"The time now is to move forward with this relationship, on the (supply routes), on the safe havens, on dealing with terrorism — on dealing with the issues that frankly both of us are concerned about," Panetta said.