Archive for Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Momentum for peace between Pakistan, India builds

May 7, 2003


— Pakistan restored transportation links and full diplomatic ties with rival India on Tuesday, and he pressed for peace talks to include discussion of the two countries' nuclear arsenals.

Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali also said he hoped the South Asian rivals could resolve their decadeslong differences about Kashmir, the divided Himalayan region that has been the cause of two wars between them.

"I am hopeful a good solid solution should be coming forward on all issues, of course including the Jammu and Kashmir issue," Jamali said.

Tensions between the neighbors have worried the international community because both possess nuclear weapons. Jamali called Tuesday for "serious discussion for nuclear and strategic stability in our region."

There was no immediate reaction from New Delhi to Tuesday's developments.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday warmly welcomed the reciprocal steps taken by the South Asian neighbors and said he looked forward to the peaceful resolution of differences.

Besides announcing the resumption of cross-border air, bus and train service, Jamali said he wanted the two nations to reopen sporting ties. Except for a World Cup game in March, Pakistan and India have not played a cricket match since 2000.

Jamali also sought to increase trade between the two countries by reducing customs and tariffs on more than 70 unspecified items.

The prime minister also said Pakistan, as a goodwill gesture, would release dozens of Indian fishermen held for illegally entering Pakistani waters. Both Pakistan and India routinely arrest each other's fishermen.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee launched the peace overtures during a visit to Indian-ruled Kashmir last week, saying he wanted talks with Pakistan.

Jamali then called Vajpayee -- the first top-level contact in more than two years. He has offered to go to India or have Vajpayee come to Pakistan for talks the India leader says will be "decisive."

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