WASHINGTON - In what appears to be a step towards easing the tensions in Islamabad-Washington relations, Pakistan may invite US military trainers back ‘as early as April or May’ but it has ruled out allowing CIA drones into the country again, a conservative American news channel reported Friday.

Drones ‘can never return’, FOX News channel said, quoting an unnamed senior Pakistan official. “They will never be allowed back, at Shamsi or anywhere else,” the official added, referring to the base in Balochistan from which many of the unmanned aerial vehicles were deployed until the NATO strikes on Pakistani border posts in November that killed 26 soldiers.

Pakistan’s parliament is currently reviewing the nature of its relationship with the United States after that incident, which led Pakistan to close its border crossings used by NATO to supply its troops in Afghanistan.

FOX said the main stipulations in the review will include no covert CIA or military operations on the ground in Pakistan, nor unauthorized incursions into its airspace.

In return, it said Pakistan would allow back US military trainers, including special forces teams, and a resumption of close cooperation with the CIA in targeting militants who use the Pakistani side of the tribal belt as a safe haven and breeding ground for extremism.

It would also reopen next month the Torkham and Chaman border crossings with Afghanistan, which have remained closed to NATO supply convoys as punishment to the coalition since the NATO attack.

Islamabad would also open its doors to high level US diplomats again after an embarrassing snub this week for President Barack Obama’s special envoy to the region, Marc Grossman, who was denied his request to visit Pakistan in the middle of his tour of South Asia.

“We understand the Government of Pakistan is still working on its review of US-Pakistan relations, and we have not yet received a formal report from the government. Decisions about the level of Pakistani commitment to our military relationship are obviously theirs to make, and we respect that,” said Capt John Kirby, a spokesman for the Office of the Secretary of Defence, in an emailed statement to FOX.

Pakistan has been reeling since Osama bin Laden was killed within its borders in a US raid last May. It considers that incident, along with civilian casualties caused by drone attacks, as flagrant violations of its sovereignty by an ‘arrogant’ US government.

Foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar this week said that ties “are on hold until we start re-engaging,” but Pakistan is now motivated by the US elections to move forward swiftly in rebuilding trust between the two countries.

Islamabad fears that if the foundation is not laid now, once presidential campaigning begins in earnest by the summer, it will be mid-2013 before they can renegotiate with Washington, FOX said.

However, the senior official suggested there were benefits to waiting. “We would prefer it if there was a Republican government again. Pakistan has always done well with the Republicans. Historically, over the decades, we have always had difficulty doing business with the Democrats,” the official said.