Pak refuses trade route to India: Zakhilwal
Last Updated: Wednesday, July 07, 2010, 22:44
Islamabad: Pakistan has refused to allow the transit of Indian goods to Afghanistan through its territory though Afghan truckers will be permitted to use Pakistani routes to deliver cargo to the Wagah land border, Afghan Finance Minister Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal said on Wednesday.

Zakhilwal made the remarks while interacting with the media after two-day talks with Pakistani officials on a new Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement.

Both sides failed to finalise a new agreement to replace the pact they had signed in the 1960s.

A joint communiqu? issued at the end of the talks said: "Considerable progress was made and consensus arrived at (on) most issues. Both sides agreed to continue discussions on remaining issues to achieve complete agreement."

The two countries agreed to hold another round of talks within two weeks to finalise the agreement, Zakhilwal said.

Diplomatic sources said the next meeting is likely to be held in Kabul on the sidelines of an international conference later this month.

Pakistan and Afghanistan had signed a memorandum of understanding in Washington in May last year to begin talks on a new transit trade agreement.

They had agreed to finalise the pact by the end of 2009 but differences on several issues delayed the agreement.

The two countries have so far held seven rounds of talks on the agreement.

The Washington talks were hosted by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who will travel to Kabul to attend the upcoming international conference.

She will also visit Islamabad this month.

Smuggling was a key issued raised by Islamabad in the talks and both sides agreed to take measures to curb the menace, Zakhilwal said.

An Afghan delegate said the Afghan side also complained about the "illegal arrival" into Afghanistan of Pakistani products that cause huge revenue losses.

The joint communique issued after the talks between the Finance Ministers said the two sides had discussed business-to-business cooperation and railway links.

The two sides agreed to start work on feasibility reports on two rail linkages ? the Torkham-Jalalabad and Chaman-Spinboldak-Kandhar rail connections ? to promote accelerated communications and to boost regional trade.

A memorandum on the feasibility studies was signed by Pakistani Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour and Zakhilwal.

Zakhilwal highlighted the importance of Pakistan being Afghanistan's largest trading partner and offered the Pakistani business community to avail of opportunities in his country.

A meeting of businessmen from both countries was also held to promote trade and services.


First Published: Wednesday, July 07, 2010, 22:44

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