WASHINGTON, July 14: US and Pakistani officials are meeting again on Monday to finalise a memorandum of understanding to regulate Nato supplies to Afghanistan, official sources told Dawn.
According to these sources, both sides have formed MoU committees to expedite an agreement.
The officials are believed to have reached an understanding and both sides are now consulting lawyers to prepare the final draft, the sources said.
There’s a strong possibility that they may sign the MoU on Monday.
“But you can never be sure in such talks. A last-minute technical hitch can delay the signing,” warned an official source. “Even if it happens, it will be a temporary delay as both sides have a strong resolve to move forward.”
Pakistan closed ground supply routes to Afghanistan to protest a Nov 26 US air raid on one of its border posts that killed 24 soldiers. The routes reopened last week after the United States accepted the Pakistani demand for an apology over the air raid.
But the 7-month delay has created a huge backlog as more than 7,000 trucks with Nato supplies are held up in Pakistan.
Both sides have, however, agreed to expedite the process. They intend to move first about 1,600 trucks that have been pre-cleared and sealed and are ready to go. Other held-up cargo will follow soon.
The Pakistani government is believed to have finalised all the details at an inter-ministerial meeting in Islamabad on Thursday.
It is still not clear if the MoU will also include a proposal to rebuild the National Highway which is in a bad shape because of Nato trucks or this issue will be dealt with separately.
At a recent briefing in Washington, a State Department official told reporters that Pakistan remains committed to expediting the movement of supply trucks to Afghanistan.
Patrick Ventrell also said that both sides were “working together to put in place a range of technical measures and instructions necessary for transit”.
On Thursday, officials at the Foreign Office told reporters in Islamabad that the US and Pakistan would soon sign an MoU to regulate the supplies.
Reports in the Pakistani media claimed that the government had decided to scrap a Musharraf-era agreement with the United States because it felt the old arrangement had created problems for both countries.