India, Pakistan discuss cross-Kashmir CBMs, terror (Lead)

July 26th, 2011 - 4:19 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 26 (IANS) The foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan Tuesday discussed a host of issues, including terrorism and Jammu and Kashmir, and firmed up confidence-building measures (CBMs) that will be announced after talks between their foreign ministers Wednesday.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir held delegation-level talks that reviewed the progress in bilateral relations since they last met in Islamabad a month ago. They finalised a slew of CBMs designed to expand travel and trade across the divided halves of Kashmir, officials said.

Welcoming Bashir, Rao called the meeting “preparatory”.

“We are meeting here today, preparatory to the discussion that will be held tomorrow between External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar,” she said.

“We had a very good meeting in Islamabad last month and this in a sense has set the trend for the discussions today.”

Thanking Rao for inviting him and his delegation, Bashir said: “I think we have every reason to be satisfied with our joint endeavours for the cause of peace and stability and for the good relations between our two countries.”

Bashir stressed that he look forward to a “productive meeting between the two ministers”.

The Indian delegation, headed by Rao, included Y.K. Sinha, joint secretary in charge of Pakistan in the external affairs ministry, Sharat Sabharwal, India’s high commissioner to Pakistan, and Vishnu Prakash, the spokesperson of the external affairs ministry.

The Pakistani delegation, headed by Bashir, included Zehra H. Akbari, director general, South Asia, in Pakistan’s foreign office and Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik.

The CMBs, that are expected to be announced by Krishna and Khar Wednesday could include an increase in the frequency of cross-Kashmir bus links between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad and Poonch and Rawalakot, an increase in the number of trading days across the Line of Control (LoC) from two to four, and opening of more trading points.

A government source said the two sides will also discuss measures to liberalise the visa regime.

The two sides also discussed possibilities of upgrading their dialogue in some areas to the ministerial level, said sources.

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