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First result of dialogue: LoC buses to run weekly

world Updated: May 22, 2008 01:56 IST
Amit Baruah

The Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakot bus services will now become weekly instead of the existing fortnightly affairs, India and Pakistan said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

The two countries also signed a consular agreement on access to prisoners being kept in jails; each will provide on a regular basis an updated and comprehensive list of prisoners to the other.

India and Pakistan, who exchanged new confidence-building proposals, said that a meeting of a working group on cross-Line of Control confidence-building measures (CBMs) would be convened within two months.

On Siachen, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee claimed that “some progress” had been made, conceding that the issue had taken a “little longer” to resolve. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said a “package” on how to resolve the Siachen issue had been presented to India. He hoped that due consideration would be given to it.

On trade and commerce, the two countries agreed to discuss further steps for facilitating trade and “redressing” the trade imbalance. “In this regard, Indian and Pakistan railway officials would meet in June for resolving all technical issues to enable increase in freight movement.”

According to the statement, India and Pakistan, who have been discussing the creation of a tourist visa category, agreed that the visa agreement would be given final touches soon.

“Both sides expressed satisfaction on the progress made on Sir Creek, with the completion of the joint survey, the exchange of maps, and the discussions thereafter,” the statement added.

On Kashmir, Qureshi stated that along with implementing new CBMs, India and Pakistan had to move forward on addressing the Kashmir issue. The Kashmir issue had to be in accordance with the UN resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiris.