M A I N   N E W S

Talks to last till final settlement
Leaders for enhanced interaction across LoC
T. R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 18
Determining that the peace process is irreversible in keeping with the overwhelming desire of the peoples of India and Pakistan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Gen Pervez Musharraf had substantive talks on all issues, including Jammu and Kashmir. They agreed to continue discussions in a “sincere and purposeful manner for a final settlement.”

Pledging not to allow terrorism to impede the peace process, the two leaders agreed among other confidence building measures to enhance interaction and cooperation across the Line of Control (LoC), including agreed meeting points for divided families, trade, pilgrimages and cultural interaction.

They condemned attempts to disrupt the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service and called for increasing its frequency and also allowing trucks on the route to promote trade. Simultaneously, the green signal was given to start additional routes, including the Poonch and Rawalkot route.

Dr Manmohan Singh and General Musharraf looked forward to the early start of the bus service between Amritsar and Lahore as well as to religious places like Nankana Sahib, according to the two-page joint statement read out by Mr Manmohan Singh at Hyderabad House here today forenoon. It was decided that the Consulates General of the two countries in Mumbai and Karachi, respectively, would be opened before the end of the current year along with restarting the Khokhrapar-Munnabao train link by January 1, next year.

On the issues of Sir Creek and Siachen, the two leaders instructed that the existing institutional mechanisms should convene discussions immediately for finding mutually acceptable solution in respect of both these matters.

Significantly, the two leaders have urged their petroleum and natural gas ministers to meet next month to explore cooperation in this sector, encompassing the pipeline projects from Iran and Turkmenistan. Further, directions have been given to reactivate the Joint Economic Commission and stressed that the Joint Business Council involving the private sector of the two countries should meet soon.

The two leaders said enhanced economic and commercial cooperation would contribute to the well being of the peoples of the two countries and bring a higher level of prosperity for the region. The two leading economies of South Asia should work together for the greater prosperity of the region.

Conscious of the historic opportunity created by the improved relations between the two neighbours, the two leaders affirmed the commitments made in the joint press statement of January 6, 2004, in Islamabad on the sidelines of the SAARC Summit as well as the one issued in New York seven months later on September 24, 2006.

Dr Manmohan Singh and General Musharraf assessed positively the progress that had been made so far through confidence building, people-to-people contacts and enhancing areas of interactions and build on the momentum already achieved.

The Prime Minister accepted General Musharraf’s invitation to visit Pakistan in principle and said mutually acceptable dates would be worked out.



Indo-Pak joint statement
  • Indo-Pak peace process now irreversible.
  • Pledged not to allow terrorism to impede peace process.
  • Frequency of Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus to be increased and trucks allowed on this route to promote trade.
  • Operationalisation of other routes, including Poonch and Rawalkot.
  • Early start of Amritsar-Lahore bus service, including religious places like Nankana Sahib.
  • Khokhrapar-Munnabao train link to be re-established by January 2006.
  • Consultates-General in Mumbai and Karachi to be opened by year-end.
  • Expeditious mutually acceptable solutions for Sir Creek and Siachen issue through existing institutional arrangements.
  • Indo-Pak Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministers meet in May to discuss energy cooperation, including Iran-Turkenistan gas pipeline.
  • Dormant Joint Economic Commission to be reactivated early.
  • Joint Business Council of private sector to meet soon.

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