India to restore bus link with Pakistan

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has said his country was ready to take more steps to improve its relations with Pakistan, a day after India announced it would restore a bus link with its neighbour.

Vajpayee (L) with Musharraf: New
steps could lead to peace talks

Vajpayee said on Tuesday that these steps should eventually lead to a climate for peace talks.


“Some steps have been taken. More steps will be taken,” Vajpayee told reporters just before he left on a foreign tour.


“I believe an atmosphere will be created in which talks can start,” he said.


His comments came after the Indian Foreign Ministry said on Monday it would resume the bus link with Pakistan on a twice-weekly basis.


Some observers attributed the significance of renewing bus services to the bus journey made by Vajpayee to the northern Pakistani city of Lahore in 1999 in a peace initiative that later failed.


Vajpayee spoke to reporters just before leaving on a three-nation tour of Germany, France, and Russia. He is expected to discuss the peace gestures he made with world leaders he will be meeting.


Prisoner release


India has also decided to release 70 Pakistani fishermen and 60 civilians held in its prisons, according to a statement issued on Monday by the foreign ministry. Last week, Pakistan released 20 Indian prisoners. 


The new Indian decisions are the latest in a series of reciprocal measures aimed at building confidence that began last month in an attempt to restart talks.


The last time the nuclear-armed neighbours held formal talks was in July 2001, when a summit between Vajpayee and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf failed to yield results.