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Pakistan-U.S. ink MoU on NATO supply routes

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, Aug 1, IRNA -- Pakistan and the United States on Tuesday signed a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) regarding the formal restoration of supply routes for NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The MoU says there will be no transportation of arms and ammunition for foreign troops in Afghanistan via Pakistan.

American Charge d'Affaires, Richard Hoagland, and a senior Pakistani defence ministry official, Rear Admiral Farrokh Ahmad, signed the MoU on behalf of the two governments.

The federal cabinet last week approved the draft of the MoU after series of talks between senior officials of the two countries in Islamabad.

The NATO supplies were suspended in the wake of a U.S. airstrike on a border check post in November last year that killed twenty four Pakistani soldiers. The supply routes remained suspended for almost seven months.

Following apology by the US on the incident on July 3‚ Pakistan reopened the supply routes. The current MoU will replace the existing arrangements for NATO supplies.

The draft says that two routes will be used by containers carrying NATO supplies.

Containers on the southern route will travel to Afghanistan from Karachi’s Bin Qasim Port via Chaman in Balochistan province. On the northern route, containers will travel from Karachi via Torkham in northwest Pakistan to Afghanistan. All items in the containers will be checked at Karachi port and two borer points.

The draft says that there will be no tax or duty charged on the containers, however, commercial carriers will have to pay fees. New fees can also be introduced for the quick transfer of cargo.

The MoU further stated that there will be no warehouses or storage facilities provided for American goods and no new no objection certificates (NOCs) will be required for the transit.

Pakistan will also be allowed to stop the transit of goods which fall outside the parameters of the MoU.

Pakistan will also provide facilities for the security and quick transfer of the cargo and will keep the US government informed about the monitoring and transit points of the cargo. Containers travelling to Afghanistan will be bound to return via Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Defence Ministry will act as a central coordination authority and review the daily operations and implementation of the supply route. Two monitoring officers for NATO supplies will be set up at the Pakistani Defence Ministry and the US embassy in Islamabad. Secretary Defence Asif Yasin will be coordination officer from Pakistani side.

Officials from both countries will meet once every two months to evaluate the implementation of the MoU. According to the draft, any misunderstanding will be cleared through mutual understanding and not a third party.

It is clearly written in the draft that commercial carriers will be responsible for any damage to the goods.

Transport of non-lethal cargo which includes food and medicine will be allowed in containers measuring 20 by 40 feet, the draft says. However, military equipment for the Afghan National Army will be allowed to use Pakistani land routes, the draft of the MoU said.

The MoU is applicable with its signing and will be valid till 31 December 2015 and could be extended for one year after consultations. Both countries will also have to inform each other in writing if they want to discontinue the MoU.

Officials said Pakistan will sign separate MoUs with other NATO countries.

Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 80255840

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