US acknowledges India's role in inking of key Af-Pak agreement | world | Hindustan Times
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US acknowledges India's role in inking of key Af-Pak agreement

Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke said the US is grateful to India for the key role played by it in the signing of the historic transit trade agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

world Updated: Oct 30, 2010 09:02 IST

The Obama Administration has publicly acknowledged the significant role played by India in the signing of the historic transit trade agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which took more than four decades of painful negotiations between Kabul and Islamabad.

Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke said the US is grateful to India for the key role played by it, in the absence of which Afghanistan and Pakistan would not have been able the sign the agreement in this regard in Kabul a day earlier.

"I'm very grateful to the Indian government for not interposing any objections to this bilateral trade treaty," Holbrooke told reporters at a special State Department briefing.

The Transit Trade Agreement, signed in Kabul on Friday by the commerce ministers of the two neighbouring nations, according to Holbrooke is the most important deal between Pakistan and Afghanistan since Pakistan's independence.

"It is more than a trade agreement; it is a political breakthrough as well, and it represents a move in the direction of one of the most critical goals that we have in that region, which is a closer relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan," he said.

"The 1965 agreement between India, Pakistan and Afghanistan did not have adequate implementation machinery and never really got going. The attempt to negotiate a trilateral trade agreement was not going to work in the current environment," Holbrooke said giving an insight into the process in which he was closely involved.

"We recommended to all three countries that Pakistan and Afghanistan have a bilateral negotiation with a clear understanding, which is written into the agreement, that if at any time India and Pakistan begin to work together towards their own trade agreements that Afghanistan will be able to enter those on an equal basis," he said.

"The clause is called the National Treatment Clause. Some Americans would call it Most Favored Nation, but National Treatment is what it's now called.

And that was very key and I'm very grateful to the Indian Government for not interposing any objections to this bilateral trade treaty and we hope that the Indians and Pakistan will find a way to join it at their own pace. But we will leave that to New Delhi and Islamabad to work on," Holbrooke said.