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Central & South Asia
India and Pakistan prepare for peace talks
Confidence-building measures, trade and people-to-people exchanges high on New Delhi meeting's agenda.
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2011 10:00
The peace talks set to begin on Wednesday are aimed at rebuilding trust between the South Asian neighbours [AFP]

Senior Indian and Pakistani officials have held discussions in New Delhi, India's capital, that will lay the groundwork for formal peace talks set for Wednesday.

The meeting between the foreign ministers of the neighbouring South Asian countries is expected to focus on confidence-building measures, trade and people-to-people exchanges.

Salman Bashir, Pakistan's foreign secretary, said on Tuesday that he hopes the dialogue will boost ties between the two countries.

"We have every reason to be satisfied with our joint endeavours for the cause of peace and stability and for good relations between our two countries," he said.

Nirupama Rao, India's foreign secretary, also said she was looking forward to the talks.

"We had a very good meeting in Islamabad last month and this has, in a sense, set the trend for our discussions here today," she said.

Peace talks between the two countries broke down over an attack in Mumbai in 2008 by 10 Pakistani men which killed 166 people.

Wide range of issues

The two countries decided to restart the peace process in February and have since discussed a wide range of issues concerning the two sides, including the divided territory of Kashmir and the continuing threat of terrorism.

The ministerial talks, aimed at rebuilding trust, are expected to build on the progress made by talks between the foreign secretaries in Islamabad last month.

In recent meetings, the foreign secretaries agreed to expand confidence-building measures in nuclear and conventional weapons, and improve trade and travel across the ceasefire line dividing Kashmir.

Chintamani Mahapatra, a professor of international politics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, said Kashmir would be a central issue in the dialogue.

"There is a proposal to boost the amount of trade between the Pakistani and Indian side of Kashmir," he told Al Jazeera.

"They are considering increasing the number of days residents from the two sides can engage in trade per week from two to four. They will also discuss smoothening the process of getting permits for trade.

"There is also a proposal to expand the number of facilities in the region, including telephone lines."

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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