India, Pakistan to boost transit links

Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have agreed to boost road and rail links during talks after watching cricket together.

    Pervez Musharraf is on a three-day visit to India

    "The talks were wide-ranging and held in a very warm

    atmosphere," Singh's spokesman Sanjaya Baru said on Sunday, picking up on the

    easy relationship between the two leaders of the traditional foes.

    The two ran almost half an hour beyond a scheduled two-hour

    closed-door session after their delegations met, and they emerged smiling

    for the cameras.

    The committee would seek to accelerate bilateral trade and

    commercial ties, the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency said.

    "We want to promote trade, and any problems that are coming in

    the way we certainly want to resolve them," the PTI quoted Singh as

    saying during the talks.

    Two-way trade

    Two-way trade between India and Pakistan has risen from $161

    million in the 2000 fiscal year to $483.85 million in the fiscal year

    ending on 31 March 2005, with the balance tilted heavily in India's favour.

    "We want to promote trade and any problems that are coming in

    the way we certainly want to resolve them"

    Indian Prime Minister
    Manmohan Singh

    The two men agreed to launch a train service between

    Munnabao in India's Rajasthan state and Khokrapar in the Pakistani

    province of Sindh in December, the PTI said.

    Indian officials had said New Delhi would propose a raft of

    proposals, some new, some old, including reuniting families

    separated by the border dividing Kashmir. 

    Singh and Musharraf agreed to increase the frequency of the

    bus service linking the capitals of the Himalayan region, Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, that was launched on 7 April, official

    sources said.

    An official told reporters the two sides

    discussed measures to build trust between

    the two rival armies deployed across the Line of Control (LoC), the

    de facto border splitting Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

    Kashmir has been held in part by each country since independence from Britain in 1947,

    but claimed in full by both.

    Realistic approach

    Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, who

    accompanied Musharraf to the talks at the Hyderabad guest house, had

    called on the two countries, ahead of the talks, to take a "realistic

    approach to resolve all outstanding issues between them".

    The insurgency in Kashmir began
    in 1989

    "We want solutions to all problems between us ... Kashmir is the

    central issue," the United News of India news agency quoted him as


    "The two countries had fought wars over Kashmir and they must

    now show maturity to resolve their differences," Kasuri


    India accuses Pakistan of fomenting a rebellion in

    India-administered Kashmir, a charge Islamabad denies. 

    Musharraf, soon after his arrival in India on Saturday, called

    on the two neighbours to grasp the opportunity afforded by his visit

    to make headway on Kashmir, the subject of two of the three wars

    between India and Pakistan since 1947.

    Tens of thousands of people have been killed since the beginning of the

    insurgency in 1989.

    India and Pakistan resumed peace talks after being pulled back

    from the brink of war twice in 2002. 




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