India proposes October 1 as date for start of LOC trade

September 7th, 2008 - 1:32 pm ICT by ANI  

New Delhi, Sept.7 (ANI): India has suggested to Pakistan open the Srinagar-Muzafarabad route for trade from October 1 this year.
New Delhi has also expressed its willingness to open new routes to boost trade across the Line of Control (LOC).
In an interview to All India Radio on Saturday, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said: “Our proposal for opening the LOC trade from October 1 has been forwarded to Pakistan and we are awaiting their response. Necessary steps will be taken as soon as we receive Pakistan’’s response.”
He also ruled out that the proposal for opening the route was connected in any way to the recent political upheaval in Kashmir.
Mukherjee said: “It (the opening of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route) has nothing to do with the contemporary events.”
We are also thinking of new routes” as a confidence building measure. I do hope the fifth round of the composite dialogue will also be concluded successfully,” he added.
He said India wants peace, stability and development in “all our neighbouring countries, including Pakistan”.
He confirmed that India has also proposed to Pakistan the introduction of entry permits for members of the divided families of Kashmir and joint projects in tourism, environment and forestry in the two Kashmirs to boost the peace process.
“Automatic permit for senior citizens and the strengthening of cultural interaction across the LoC are other confidence building measures proposed to the Pakistan government,” government sources said.
Meanwhile, a high-level team of Indian officials has reviewed preparations and facilities at the Salamabad and Kaman posts in Uri to accentuate opening of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route for trade.
The team consisting of Ministry of External Affairs Joint Secretary Raghavan, Kashmir Home Department Joint Secretary S Skandan and Customs Commissioner S Devinder Singh was told that ultra-modern X-ray facilities had been set up at Salamabad.
The team inspected the custom clearance facilities for the incoming and outgoing goods, warehouses for the goods, parking facilities for vehicles and other support services for running a Land Customs Station.
The team asked the state authorities to complete the remaining civil works, including the construction of a truck terminal by the end of September.
Custom authorities have also asked for some alterations to suit their requirements. The team was told that some additional land was also being acquired for developing a state of the art permanent Land Customs Stations in the near future.
The team is scheduled to visit Chakan Da Bagh in Poonch on Sunday, where a similar Land Customs Station is being constructed for facilitating the trade through the Poonch-Rawalakot route.(ANI)

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