US publicly lauds India's role in making historic Af-Pak trade agreement a reality

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Washington, Oct 30 (ANI): 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 after a protracted negotiation of 40 years.

"I'm very grateful to the Indian Government for not interposing any objections to this bilateral trade treaty," US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke said in a briefing.

"We hope that the Indians will find - 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," he added.

The US envoy went on to say, "The Indians, however - the Indians were fully informed on this. I went to New Delhi, I talked to my friends in the foreign ministry and in the prime minister's office, and again, just to repeat, I'm very grateful to the Indians for not interjecting any concerns on this."

Giving an insight into how Pakistan and Afghanistan came to ink the agreement, Holbrooke 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."

"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. The clause is called the National Treatment Clause... And that was very key.." he said, maintaining that without the key role played by India, the duo would not be able to sign the agreement. (ANI)

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