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

Let women be, control the man
Updated 11 Apr 2021

Let women be, control the man

Men need to be educated and then read the riot act. The enforcement of the law must be merciless in such cases.
Twixt torch & tray
11 Apr 2021

Twixt torch & tray

Some may say that the lawyers’ indignation is not without merit.
Behaviour bond
10 Apr 2021

Behaviour bond

States have turned the imitation of repressive laws into an art form...

Editorial

11 Apr 2021

Dissension within PTI

WITH the dust from the PDM’s implosion still not fully settled, the PTI is now faced with growing dissension from...
11 Apr 2021

Power to arrest

A SUPREME Court verdict announced on Thursday spelled out what might be considered a self-evident truth in any...
11 Apr 2021

Unequal vaccine distribution

IT is in times of crisis that we often see the best — or worst — of humanity. In this regard, the pandemic has...
10 Apr 2021

Greater tax burden

THE FBR’s tax target of Rs6tr for the next year under the IMF-mandated fiscal adjustment policies will increase ...
UK travel ban
Updated 10 Apr 2021

UK travel ban

Pakistan continued to allow passengers to arrive without quarantine requirements.
10 Apr 2021

IS in Mozambique

IT was not too long ago when the dreaded shock troops of the self-declared Islamic State group were rampaging ...