India – Pakistan work to dissolve differences

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May 23 – India and Pakistan agreed to give consular access to each other’s prisoners and increase cross-border bus service in the disputed region of Kashmir during talks between the countries’ foreign ministers. The small concessions were considered a sign of progress between the nuclear powers. Shah Mehmood Qureshi, foreign minister of Pakistan, said talks were “very frank,” while India’s foreign minister, Pranab Mukherjee, said the two countries “have to cover a long distance.” The governments plan to meet again in July, reported the New York Times.

The most significant breakthrough was the concurrence that improvement in economic relations should not await conflict-resolution. Both Ministers underlined that “the two [trade and conflict resolution] are complementary” and said they had discussed several proposals to improve trade relations.

Officials said the discussions had taken in possibilities of cross-border investment, aside from proposals for improving trade, including bettering facilities for export of cement to India said the Hindu.

This isn't a disaster, but it's a worrying sign. Kashmir has enjoyed three years of relative peace, thanks in large part to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's efforts to start talks with India, enforce a military cease-fire and rein in militant activity. In the past 10 days, Pakistani soldiers have fired three times on Indian troops at the "line of control" in Kashmir, killing one. Since the new government took power in Islamabad in February, there's been an increase in Pakistani jihadis pouring over the border.

That's made India twitchy, and understandably so. The bomb blasts that killed more than 60 people in Jaipur last week may have been linked to Pakistan-funded militants, according to the Wall Street Journal.
During talsk, both sides strongly reaffirmed that they would not permit terrorism to impede the peace process and, in a joint statement, “re-emphasised the need for effective steps for the complete elimination of this menace.”

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