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Saturday, Sep 03, 2005
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B. Muralidhar Reddy
ISLAMABAD: India and Pakistan on Friday agreed to start a truck service on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route as a first step towards promotion of trade across the Line of Control (LoC).
The decision is part of a series of confidence-building measures (CBMs) envisaged at the Foreign Secretary-level talks, which concluded here on Friday.
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf told Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran that the "improved atmospherics had created [a] conducive environment to make real progress on all issues, particularly Jammu and Kashmir." Mr. Saran made a courtesy call on Gen. Musharraf and apprised him of the outcome of the second round of the composite dialogue.
An official statement quoted Gen. Musharraf as saying that he hoped that an end to human rights violations and withdrawal of troops from urban centres in Kashmir would help in raising the comfort level of Kashmiris. He emphasised the need to address the Kashmir dispute in a focussed manner to seek a final settlement acceptable to Pakistan, India and the people of Kashmir.
Gen. Musharraf told Mr. Saran that he was looking forward to meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh later this month in New York, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session.
Mr. Saran said Dr. Singh was committed to the peace process and was keen on seeing progress in the composite dialogue.
Asked at a news conference about Dr. Singh's recent remarks that attempts by Pakistan to combat violence and cross-border terrorism were "half-hearted," Mr. Saran said India welcomed the assurances by Gen. Musharraf that various measures were being taken to fight terrorism. It was conveyed that terrorism and extremism posed a danger to Pakistan too.
Mr. Saran said India hoped that "these commitments are, in fact, implemented. I, of course, drew attention to the fact that on the ground, infiltration and violence still continue, and it is our hope that this would subside." He recalled that both Gen. Musharraf and Dr. Singh agreed that terrorism must be confronted and not allowed to impede the peace process.
"Composite dialogue satisfactory"
"I return confident that the composite dialogue is proceeding in a satisfactory manner and has proved to be a very useful instrument in bridging differences between the two countries," Mr. Saran said.
A joint statement said the Foreign Secretaries would meet in New Delhi in January next to launch the next round of composite dialogue. They would carry forward the discussions on Jammu and Kashmir and peace and security.
Dialogue on Siachen, the Wullar barrage/Tulbul navigation project, Sir Creek, terrorism and drug trafficking, economic and commercial cooperation, and promotion of friendly exchanges in various fields would be held between January and July 2006.
Poonch bus service
It was decided that technical-level meetings would be held as soon as possible on early operationalisation of the Poonch-Rawalkot bus service and the truck service.
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