India, Pakistan to resume air links

Direct air links between India and Pakistan will resume from 1 January, sources in the Indian government have said.

    The two countries take another step to normalise relations

    The two countries reached an agreement following talks between aviation officials in New Delhi on Monday.

    The decision comes a day after Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said Islamabad was prepared to grant Indian planes overflight rights.

    Musharraf had said Pakistan would make the agreement as a gesture of goodwill at a time when both countries appeared to be taking

    significant steps to reverse a major standoff.

    India had snapped diplomatic and transport links with Pakistan after a December 2001 attack on its parliament it blamed on Islamabad-

    backed militants. Islamabad denies the charge.

    Talks between aviation officials from Pakistan and India held in August in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi ended inconclusively.

    Earlier talks aimed at resuming air links broke down when India reportedly refused Pakistan's demand for guarantees against future

    unilateral overflight bans.

    Thaw in relations

    There has been a thaw in relations between the South Asian neighbours since April. Last week they began a ceasefire on their borders in

    divided Kashmir.

    In Sunday's speech, Musharraf has said India and Pakistan need to move beyond their stated positions for the resolution of Kashmir dispute.

    Meanwhile, Vajpayee has announced he will meet Pakistani Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali at a summit of the seven-nation South Asian

    Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in Islamabad in January, but Indian officials say there will be no summit-level dialogue.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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