Islamabad: Pakistan and the US on Tuesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on transporting supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan through Pakistani territory after weeks of intense negotiations.

The MoU states arms and ammunition for foreign troops in Afghanistan cannot be transported through Pakistan and that all cargo will be scanned in the port city of Karachi and at the border crossing points of Chaman and Torkham.

Richard Hoagland, the American Charge d'Affaires, and Pakistan's Additional Defence Secretary, Rear Admiral Farrokh Ahmad, signed the MoU during a function at the Defence Ministry in Rawalpindi.

Pakistani officials told reporters that the MoU would safeguard the country's national interests.

Hoagland said the US would soon release 1.1 billion dollars of aid for Pakistan.

The cabinet had last week approved the draft of the MoU after several rounds of talks between senior officials of the two countries.

Pakistan had closed all supply routes to Afghanistan after a cross-border NATO air strike killed 24 of its soldiers last November.

It ended the seven-month blockade of the supply lines after the US apologised for the attack earlier this month.

The MOU will replace existing arrangements for transporting NATO supplies through Pakistani territory, which were reportedly based on a "verbal understanding".

US Embassy spokesman Mark Stroh told the media that the US had been given an understanding that the MoU was in line with recommendations made by Pakistan's Parliament for new terms of engagement with the US and NATO.

In keeping with the parliamentary recommendations, the MoU bars the transportation of lethal equipment and provides for the inspection of all cargo.

However, arms shipments for the Afghan security forces will be allowed.


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