NEW DELHI: Pakistan’s petroleum minister on Tuesday said the country was willing to import diesel and jet fuel from rival India if the price is “right”.
The statement by visiting Pakistan petroleum minister, Asim Hussain, was the latest sign of warming ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours who have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947.
“If the right prices are given, we have no problems importing (diesel and jet fuel),” Hussain said on the sidelines of a petrochemical conference in the Indian capital, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.
India and Pakistan have been channelling their peace efforts into “trade diplomacy” in a bid to build enough trust to tackle thornier issues that divide them such as the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.
While Pakistan has removed fuel imports from its list of goods that were banned from being imported from India, it allows import of diesel and jet fuel only by ship.
India, which has refineries across the border, is keen to take the road route to reach fuel-short Pakistan.
“I think a way could be found (to import via land) as import of (fuel) products is not banned,” Hussain said, adding that a team from India’s state-run Hindustan Petroleum Corp would soon visit Pakistan to discuss prices.
India in August lifted a ban on foreign investment from Pakistan except in defence, space and atomic energy in a step designed to build goodwill amid the renewed push for a peace settlement.
Pakistan has pledged to grant India “Most Favoured Nation (MFN)” status by year end, meaning Indian exports will be treated the same as those from other nations. India granted Pakistan MFN status in the mid-1990s.
Official bilateral trade is just $2.7 billion and heavily tilted in New Delhi’s favour, according to the most recent figures, but unofficial trade routed through third countries is estimated at up to $10 billion.
India warily resumed a full peace peace dialogue with Pakistan early last year after suspending it following the 2008 attack by Islamist gunmen on Mumbai that killed 166 people.