Pak refuses trade route to India: Zakhilwal

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 7, 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.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, July 7, 2010 - 22:44

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