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India, Pak agree on opening new bus link

The two sides agreed to operationalise by March-April this year bus service between Poonch and Rawalkot.

india Updated: Jan 19, 2006 00:07 IST

Taking a tough stand on terrorism, India on Wednesday bluntly told Pakistan that continuance of acts of terror and violence would hit the peace process as the two countries agreed on a slew of measures including opening of new bus link and trade routes.

The two sides agreed to operationalise by March-April this year bus service between Poonch and Rawalkot and make the Aman Setu peace bridge between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, damaged during the devastating earthquake last October, functional in the next two months for truck service to enable trade in permitted goods.

New Delhi also recommended an additional bus route between Kargil and Skardu, Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran told reporters at the end of the two-day talks with his Pakistani counterpart Riaz Mohammad Khan.

Khan called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who made it clear that terrorism was a "very critical issue for India". "I want permanent friendship between India and Pakistan," the Prime Minister stressed.

Singh said he was very keen to visit Pakistan when Khan renewed President Pervez Musharraf's invitation. The Prime Minister said an "appropriate occasion" would be found for the visit but stressed that it should be "substantive".

A joint statement issued at the end of the talks on the composite dialogue process said the two sides agreed to continue the "sustained dialogue in a purposeful and forward-looking manner to find a peaceful and negotiated final settlement" to the Jammu and Kashmir issue.

At a separate briefing, Khan told reporters that Pakistan put forth "ideas" on de-militarisation and "self-governance" and sought reduction of troops in Jammu and Kashmir.

First Published: Jan 18, 2006 22:13 IST