December 2004 News

Kashmir Bus Talks Begin In Delhi

7 December 2004

New Delhi: A crucial round of talks between India and Pakistan to discuss a proposed bus service between the two divided parts of Kashmir has begun in Delhi. The proposed service will link Srinagar in Indian- administered Kashmir with Muzaffarabad in Pakistani-administered Kashmir. The service was halted after the first war between the two countries in 1947. Peace talks between the nuclear-armed rivals began in February after a groundbreaking summit in Islamabad. Correspondents say that families divided by the Line of Control, the de facto border between the countries, have been demanding the resumption of the bus service. This is one of the important services that would raise the comfort level of Kashmiris Jalil Abbas Jillani, Pakistani foreign ministry official 'We had a very good meeting. We covered a lot of issues,' Pakistani foreign ministry official Jalil Abbas Jillani told reporters after the first day of two days of talks. Difficulties Mr Jillani said the talks were 'very important'. 'This is one of the important services that would raise the comfort level of Kashmiris.' Starting such a bus service in the disputed region raises diplomatic and political difficulties. India wants passengers to use passports, but Pakistan is said to favour less formal travel documents, as the use of passports and visas would imply recognition of the Line of Control as a permanent border. The 170-km (105-mile) highway linking Srinagar and Muzaffarabad will also need substantial repairs even if the service is resumed, say reports. The two countries have fought two of their three wars over the region, which is claimed by both India and Pakistan.


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