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Kashmir-related CBMs in the offing

Amit Baruah

Manmohan, Musharraf to hold talks on Saturday

NEW DELHI: With India and Pakistan looking positively at the results of the recently introduced Srinagar -Muzaffarabad bus service, space has opened up for more Kashmir-related confidence-building measures as the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, prepares to hold talks with the Pakistani President, Pervez Musharraf, on Saturday.

On the table are proposals for family reunions and meetings along the Line of Control in Mendhar, Poonch, Suchetgarh, Uri and Tangdhar along the Neelam Valley, a suggestion made in concrete terms by India to Pakistan in December, 2004.

Senior officials here told The Hindu on Thursday that such meetings in a "crude form" were already taking place along a riverbank in Tangdhar, with families gathering on both sides in the presence of security personnel.

The initial Pakistani response was a trifle lukewarm, but since the rapturous welcome to the April 7 Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service, there were signs that Islamabad might have shed its inhibitions to several cross-Kashmir proposals made by India.

Just after the bus began, the Pakistani Foreign Minister, Khurshid Kasuri, said the opening of more entry points along the LoC was possible as another confidence-building measure. "We are in the process of overcoming some minor troubles. This process could be brought forward after overcoming these hindrances," Mr. Kasuri was quoted as telling GEO TV.

In mid-2004, India also proposed that the Jammu-Sialkot route be opened and trade take place across the LoC, a suggestion that Dr. Singh made again while flagging off the trans-LoC bus.

Though officials confirm that discussions on possible agreements during Gen. Musharraf's visit were going on, they were reluctant to state categorically whether or not these would be clinched during the visit.

A road to be opened Lahore: Pakistan and India have agreed to open the Khokhropar-Munabao road. The decision will be announced during the April 17 meeting between the Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, and the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, the Pakistani news agency, NNI, said quoting sources today. Both India and Pakistan earlier declared that train service would be restored on the Munabao-Khokhrapar route from October 2. — UNI

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