India, Pak concede peace process under strain;to open 4 trade routes

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New York, Sep 25 (UNI) Acknowledging that the Peace Process is ''under strain,'' India and Pakistan decided to take a number of measures to revamp it, including openng four trade routes between the two countries and deepening the dialogue for peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues including Jammu and Kashmir.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, who met here last night on the sidelines of the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), also agreed that terrorism, violence and hostility must be ''visibly and verifiably'' prevented and severe action be taken against any elements directing or involved in interrorist acts.

Trade between the two countries would be started from October 21 through the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route and Poonch-Rawalakot roads across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, said a Joint Statement issued after the 90-minute talks held at the Hotel Millennium Plaza in the heart of New York.

The two leaders first held a one-on-one for nearly an hour and later met alongwith their aides.

The talks were earlier scheduled to be held at the UN headquarters.

However, the venue was later shifted to a neutral place where both leaders could meet.

The two leaders also agreed to open the Wagah-Attari road link in Punjab and the Khokrapar-Munabao rail route in Rajasthan to all permissible items of trade.

Modalities for opening the Skardu-Kargil route in Jammu and Kashmir would be discussed soon, the Joint Statement said.

The two leaders agreed that ceasefire between the two countries, which has been violated in the past, be stabilised and their respective Directors General of Military Operations (DGMOs) and Sector Commanders would stay in contact.

President Zardari reaffirmed Pakistan's January 6, 2004, commitment of not allowing its territory to be used for any anti-India activity.

The two leaders announced that a special meeting of the Joint Anti-Terror Mechanism (JATM) would also be held in October to address mutual concerns, including the bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul on July 7.

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani had at the 15th SAARC Summit in Colombo, offered to conduct investigations into India's charges of ISI involvement in Kabul bombing.


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