(CNN) - Pakistan has agreed to re-open a critical NATO supply route into Afghanistan.
The announcement comes some eight months after the low-point in relations between the two nominal allies.
CNN's Jill Dougherty has more on the decision... and the diplomatic maneuvering behind it.
For seven months, trucks carrying critical supplies for NATO troops from Pakistan to Afghanistan have stood idle, covered with tarps gathering dust.
Using other routes cost U.S. taxpayers 100 million dollars more a month.
All that, largely because the U.S. refused to say one simple word: "sorry."
"Regrets"..."condolences..." but not "sorry" for a U.S. air strike in November
That killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
Tuesday, in a written statement, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton finally apologized:
Foreign Minister Khar and I acknowledged the mistakes that resulted in the loss of Pakistani military lives, she said.
We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military. We are committed to working closely with Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent this from ever happening again.
The statement was diplomatically sensitive, Clinton’s press secretary stuck closely to the script.
I think the intent here is that we are both sorry for the losses suffered by both our countries in this fight against terrorists.
The apology opens up ground supply lines into Afghanistan with Pakistan agreeing not to raise fees of $250 per truck. At one point Pakistan demanded $5,000 for each vehicle.
It also may help mend relations between the two countries, ripped apart by anger over the U.S. use of drones. And the killing of Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil.
Pakistan's ambassador, Sherry Rehman, said she was glad the breakthrough was”
"Not part of any transaction."
That she "appreciates Secretary Clinton’s statement..." and hopes that
"That bilateral ties can move to a better place from here"
The U.S., says one expert, hurt itself by making the apology a big deal. But this may help put relations back on track.
"We made a mountain out of a mole hill and that the damage to our own interest in
Afghanistan and across the region it’s far higher by this relationship flailing then by actually acknowledging mistakes were made."