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Indian Wheat Heads To Afghanistan After Transit Deal With Pakistan

Indian authorities said they expect to eventually send about 50,000 tons of wheat to Afghanistan.

India has sent tons of wheat to help relieve food shortages in Afghanistan after it reached a deal with bitter rival Pakistan to allow shipments across their common border.

India's Foreign Ministry said on February 23 that about 50 trucks packed with the first 2,500 tons of wheat donated by India have begun crossing into Pakistan.

Authorities said they expect to eventually send about 50,000 tons of wheat.

A ceremony was held in Amritsar near the border with Pakistan marking the passage of the first vehicles.

“I thank the Indian government for the generosity displayed at a time when more than 20 million Afghans are facing crisis or the worse levels of food insecurity in more than 3 decades,” Farid Mamundzay, Afghanistan’s ambassador to India for the former government, said on Twitter.

Western nations slashed aid to Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover of the country last summer.

According to the United Nations, Afghanistan is facing a "devastating" humanitarian crisis with a majority of the 28 million population in need of assistance.

In a rare move last week, Pakistani authorities said the country would allow New Delhi to deliver wheat to Afghanistan through its heavily militarized border with India.

Pakistan has allowed trucks from Afghanistan to collect wheat from India by way of the frontier crossing at Attari-Wagah.

The vehicles will proceed to the Afghan city of Jalalabad through Pakistan's Torkham border, officials said.

India has said it will provide assistance to the Afghan people -- but not to the Taliban government --- through aid agencies and other organizations.

Based on reporting by RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi, AP, and AFP