India-Pak take major steps to boost peace process
Islamabad, Jan 14: Riding the waves of warmth in bilateralrelations and positive rhetoric, India and Pakistan took somemajor decisions to boost the peace process by agreeing to a slew ofmeasures including holding the first meeting of the Joint Anti- TerrorMechanism by March end and completing work for liberalisation of thevisa regime by February.
The External Affairs Minister, who arrived here this afternoon, metPakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and extended an invitation to himto attend the 14th SAARC Summit at New Delhi on April 3-4. Immediatelyafter arriving at the Chaklala airbase near here, he called onPresident Musharraf for 70 minutes and discussed all issues including''difficult ones'' like Jammu and Kashmir, terrorism, Siachen, SirCreek and others.
Both decided to give ''political impetus'' to the dialogue process.
The External Affairs Minister who is here on a two-day visit, wasreceived by Pakistan Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammed Khan, Indian HighCommissioner to Pakistan Satyabrata Paul and other senior officials ofboth governments.
In his arrival statement, Mr Mukherjee said cooperation of allSAARC member countries was important to ensure that the New DelhiSummit gives a clear signal for removing barriers and improvingconnectivity in the subcontinent for free flow of trade, commerce,goods, people and ideas.
He emphasised operationalisation of SAFTA for the benefit of theentire SAARC region which ''is now an extended family.'' ''I stronglybelieve that this region is having tremendous potential in building upits economy and if we can effectively operationalise SAFTA, it would bebeneficial to each member country belonging to SAARC which is now anextended family,'' he said in the statement.
He said Afghanistan would be joining the Summit as the eighthmember and there would be ''observers from Japan, the US and UK.'' Hesaid ''reasonable progress'' had been made in three rounds of theComposite Dialogue Progress (CDP) held so far.
Mr Mukherjee, who is on his first visit to Islamabad, said he was'happy to be here.' Tomorrow, he is scheduled to meet some politicalleaders and later visit the ancient historic site of Taxila on theoutskirts of Islamabad, which was the seat of Buddhist learning.