India, Afghanistan likely to ink air cargo service pact

Source: The Hindu Business Line, Dec 04, 2016

aAmritsar: India is likely to finalise an air cargo service pact with Afghanistan to boost bilateral trade and gain leverage in the war-ravaged country as Pakistan continues to deny transit link for Indo-Afghan trade through its territory.

The issue will be discussed during bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on the sidelines of the two-day Heart of Asia conference which began here today.There is a possibility that the pact will be finalised by tomorrow itself.

In the meeting, Afghanistan is likely to seek enhanced supply of military hardware from India and more help for strengthening its armed forces.

Afghanistan has been trying to revamp its military to fight the resurgent Taliban after draw down of NATO forces began nearly two years back.

Sources said both India and Afghanistan were keen to finalise the air cargo agreement as soon as possible and that the broad contours of the pact are already worked out.

India and Afghanistan have been exploring various connectivity projects for greater two-way trade.

In May, India, Iran and Afghanistan had signed an agreement to set up a trade and transport corridor with Chabahar in Iran as the hub.The sea-land route of Chabahar Port is designed to bypass Pakistan and the project is seen as India’s effort to counter China’s plan to develop Gwadar port in Pakistan.

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