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Trade

Pakistan to resume India trade in June after 19-month freeze

Planned sugar and cotton imports signal growing thaw in ties

A worker at a cotton processing facility in Gujarat, India: Indian cotton exports to Pakistan are set to resume as early as June.   © Reuters

NEW DELHI -- India and Pakistan will resume some trade after a nearly two-year hiatus, Pakistani Finance Minister Hammad Azhar said Wednesday, in the latest sign of warming ties between the rival countries.

Pakistan plans to start importing Indian cotton as early as June and sugar before the end the year, according to a Pakistani government official.

This adds to indications of a thaw in relations between the nuclear-armed neighbors following a joint statement by their militaries in February, which announced a cease-fire along their disputed border.

Resuming economic exchanges could help further ease tensions between the countries and in South Asia as a whole.

There is speculation that the U.S. urged India and Pakistan behind the scenes to repair bilateral ties to pave the way for the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

In August 2019, the country said it would halt bilateral trade after India stripped Jammu and Kashmir, its portion of the disputed Kashmir region, of its statehood and special constitutional status.

India and Pakistan have been mired in a bitter territorial dispute over Kashmir for decades, and clashes in the area have continued in recent years. Pakistan also expelled the Indian ambassador over the Jammu and Kashmir incident.

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