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Pakistani Kashmir traders on historic India trip

Leading traders from Pakistan-ruled Kashmir have arrived in Jammu and Kashmir to discuss trade for the first time in 60 years, officials said today.

india Updated: Oct 10, 2008 11:33 IST

Leading traders from Pakistan-ruled Kashmir have arrived in the Indian-zone of the disputed Himalayan territory to discuss trade for the first time in 60 years, officials said Friday.

"We have come with a message of peace and prosperity," Zulfikar Abassi, the head of the delegation told reporters in the Indian Kashmir summer capital Srinagar.

"We hope that trans-Kashmir trade will strengthen the peace process and help in resolving all issues," Abassi said.

"We are here to talk to our counterparts ... to see how to take the trade forward," he said.

The two countries agreed last month to resume trade across the Line of Control -- the de facto border that splits Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

The trade that starts October 21 has been a key demand of anti-India separatists who have been leading some of the largest pro-freedom demonstrations this summer.

In April 2005, the two nuclear-armed rivals opened the de factor border for a trans-Kashmir bus service.

Opening trade routes is part of an effort to improve relations between the two nations since they launched a peace process in January 2004.