REUTERS - The United States is withdrawing its team of negotiators from Pakistan without securing a long-sought agreement to allow trucks to supply NATO forces in neighbouring Afghanistan again, the Pentagon said on Monday.
The decision is the latest sign of deeply troubled ties and was announced just days after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the United States was reaching the limits of its patience because of the safe havens Pakistan offered to Islamist insurgents.
Pakistan's envoy to the United States had warned that Panetta's comments last Thursday in Kabul were unhelpful to efforts to narrow the differences between the two countries and came at a critical moment in negotiations.
Pentagon spokesman George Little said the United States still hoped to broker a deal with Pakistan. But he said the team of negotiators had been there for about six weeks and, given the lack an agreement, deserved a rest.
They could return at any time, if warranted, he added.
"I believe that some of the team left over the weekend and the remainder of the team will leave shortly," Little told reporters. "This was a U.S. decision."