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Pakistan to release 99 Indian nationals

world Updated: May 20, 2008 14:50 IST
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Pakistan on Tuesday announced it would release 99 Indians, a majority of them fishermen, as a goodwill gesture on the occasion of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's visit to the country.

Rahman Malik, advisor to the Prime Minister on Interior Affairs, made the announcement just before the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan began talks to resume the composite dialogue process.

Pranab Mukherjee will arrive here on Tuesday and hold talks with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Wednesday the first high-level contact between the two countries since the change of government in Islamabad in March.

Malik, a senior leader of the ruling PPP, said 96 Indian fishermen and 3 civilians would be released on May 24. The Indian government had verified their nationality and they would be going home shortly.

India released 14 Pakistani fishermen last week. Steps to address the problems of Indian and Pakistani prisoners held in jails in both countries are expected to figure in the discussions between the foreign secretaries and talks between Mukherjee and Qureshi.