US urges India, Pakistan to hold direct talks

Published April 8, 2021
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price addresses a press briefing on February 2, 2021. — Reuters/File
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price addresses a press briefing on February 2, 2021. — Reuters/File

WASHINGTON: The US State Department has refused to comment on Pakistan cancelling an earlier decision to import sugar and cotton from India but did ask the two neighbours to hold direct talks to normalise relations.

“I wouldn’t want to comment on that specifically. What I would say is that we continue to support direct dialogue between India and Pakistan on issues of concern,” said the department’s spokesperson Ned Price when asked what Washington thought of this development.

On March 31, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) announced in Islamabad that it was allowing the private sector to import 0.5 million tons of white sugar from India. The committee also approved another proposal to import cotton from India starting June this year.

But on April 1, the federal cabinet deferred the ECC’s decision to allow imports from India until New Delhi reinstates Article 370 of its Constitution, which guaranteed a semi-autonomous status for India-held Kashmir.

Pakistan suspended bilateral trade with India in August 2019 when New Delhi announced its decision to change Kashmir’s status.

The now defunct decision to resume trade with India had followed an agreement between Islamabad and New Delhi to observe a ceasefire on the Line of Control after months of tensions. The move had rekindled hopes that the two nuclear-armed neighbours would start taking baby steps towards normalising relations.

In 2018-19, India and Pakistan traded only $494.87 million worth of goods and that too mostly favoured India.

At the State Department briefing on Tuesday, Mr Price also reiterated the Biden administration’s desire to end America’s military presence in Afghanistan but did not say if Washington will meet the May 1 deadline.

The Trump administration had signed an agreement with the Taliban which required Washington to withdraw its troops by May 1. The Biden administration recognises the agreement but seems reluctant to meet the deadline.

“We are committed to bringing a responsible end to the conflict, removing our troops from harm’s way” but not without “ensuring that Afghanistan can never again become a platform, a launch pad, for terrorist attacks that would threaten the United States or our allies,” Mr Price said.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2021

Opinion

Story of the last tamarind leaf
Updated 22 Jun 2021

Story of the last tamarind leaf

These journalists speak for all the troubled features of India’s democracy that Mr Modi didn’t tell the G7 about.
Understanding abuse
Updated 22 Jun 2021

Understanding abuse

Condemnations have been rare while there is no debate on the prevalence of such abuse beyond the Mufti Azizur Rehman case.
The roots of hate
Updated 21 Jun 2021

The roots of hate

The reference to being ‘out-populated’ is a popular theme in modern neo-Nazi and white supremacist thought.

Editorial

Describing OBL
22 Jun 2021

Describing OBL

FM Qureshi’s non-committal reply to question about Osama being a terrorist or a martyr has sent the wrong message to the world.
22 Jun 2021

A neglected sector

THE PTI legislators joined forces with opposition lawmakers in the National Assembly the other day to take their own...
22 Jun 2021

Air safari

THE resumption of PIA’s air safari flights to Skardu will hopefully attract international and domestic tourists,...
Poll consensus
Updated 21 Jun 2021

Poll consensus

If the govt is reluctant to take part in an APC on poll reforms, then it must ensure that parliament can be used for this purpose.
21 Jun 2021

Global displacement

THE number of globally displaced persons shared by the UN’s refugee agency in a report released on Friday is...
21 Jun 2021

KP budget

THE KP budget 2021-22 is a sort of please-all document that hands out something to almost everyone in the hope of...