When US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton offered Pakistan help last week in exporting mangoes to the US in a bid to dampen anti-American sentiment, it marked the latest chapter in the fruit's curious history of diplomacy and intrigue.
Clinton's offer came three years after the Bush administration opened up the US market to Indian mangoes in exchange for allowing Harley-Davidson to sell its famed motorcycles in India — a deal that generated goodwill as the two countries finalised a civilian nuclear agreement.
Washington's mango-powered diplomacy this time around is part of a broader $7.5 billion aid effort that is meant to improve the image of the US in Pakistan, a move officials hope will provide the Pakistani government with greater room to cooperate on turning around the war in Afghanistan.
"I have personally vouched for Pakistani mangoes, which are delicious, and I'm looking forward to seeing Americans be able to enjoy those in the coming months," Clinton said during her visit to Islamabad last week.
The prominence of mangoes in South Asian diplomacy should come as no surprise since scientists believe the sweet and fleshy orange fruit originated in the region before Buddhist monks and Persian traders introduced the plant to other areas of the world.