India-Pakistan: Fruitful Talks Held by Foreign Ministers

New Delhi, Jul 30 (Prensa Latina) The talks held this week between the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers were so fruitful that both parties agreed that they were “on the right track”, and referred to “a new era” in bilateral relations.

In an effort to meet a deficit of mutual trust that dates from the period of their independence from the British Empire in 1947, Foreign Ministers S.M. Krishna (India) and Hina Rabbani Khar (Pakistan) met in New Delhi on July 27.

Althogh previous contacts had consisted of a series of negotiations, in three hours, the foreign ministers issued a joint declaration to express their mutual will to find a peaceful solution to the disputes between the two countries in a constructive spirit.

On the delicate issue of terrorism, Krishna and Rabbani Khar repeated their firm and undiluted commitment to fighting and eradicating that scourge “in all its forms and manifestations”, as well as holding regular meetings at the level of experts and deputy foreign ministers.

The agreements will include cooperation between the two countries’ security services and guarantees that those responsible for the terrorist attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai in November 2008, as a result of which bilateral talks were suspended, will be tried.

Regarding peace and security, they agreed to take new confidence-building measures by controlling conventional and nuclear weapons, and groups of experts from the two countries will meet in Islamabad in September.

One of the paragraphs of the joint declaration referred to the disputed region of Kashmir, and noted the need to continue with the talks in a purposeful and forward-looking manner, with a view to finding a peaceful solution by narrowing divergences and building convergences”.

Regarding Kashmir, Krishna and Rabbani Khar announced the decision to increase the frequency of visits by operators, the meetings between the Chambers of Commerce in the two regions of Kashmir, as well as improving bus transportation and telephone communications, and the issuing of visas for people interested in visiting the other side or participating in religious pilgrimages.

The foreign ministers also favored the reduction or elimination of trade and non-trade tariffs and the resumption of meetings of the India-Pakistan Joint Commission.

Shortly after the meeting, in another strong sign of improved bilateral relations, Rabbani Khar met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and invited him to visit Islamabad on behalf of his Pakistani counterpart, Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Singh accepted the invitation and said he will visit Pakistan on a mutually agreed date.

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