Talks to put peace train on track begin tomorrow

The four-day talk between India and Pakistan will aim at restarting train links suspended due to war.

india Updated: Jan 03, 2006 14:13 IST

India and Pakistan will kick off their diplomatic engagement in the new year with a four-day talk beginning on Wednesday that will aim at restarting a trans-border train service, 40 years after it was suspended because of war.

The service, once operational, willlink Munabao in Rajasthan to Khokhrapar in Pakistan's Sind province.

The train is expected to start sometime later this month.

This rail link, that was destroyed in the 1965 war, will be one of the first confidence building measures to see the light of day since the resumption of the peace process between the countries exactly two years ago.

The talks on starting the train service will be followed by the foreign secretary-level talks that start on January 17 to launch the third round of composite dialogue process.

Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran will discuss with his Pakistani counterpart Riaz Mohammad Khan two of the key items in the composite dialogue: peace and security, including confidence building measures, and Jammu and Kashmir.

Most of the 12 kilometretrack to Khokhrapar has already been laid. Hectic preparations are already underway to renovate the railway station at Munabao, the last station on India's western border, that will look more like an international airport, complete with customs and immigration counters and duty-free gift shops.

About 20 customs counters, 28 immigration counters and one for money-changing are being set up at the modern railway station. The Indian government has spent over four million dollarson renovating the station. Passengers arriving from Pakistan will have to undergo checks and proceed to Jodhpur.

New Delhi had also condemned spiralling violence in Balochistan and advised Islamabad to exercise restraint in dealing with grievances of the people of Pakistan's strategic province that borders Afghanistan. The Pakistan foreign office took strong objection to what it considered "interference" in its internal affairs.

First Published: Jan 03, 2006 14:13 IST