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Pakistan, India Re-Establish Economic Cooperation Commission


India and Pakistan have revived a joint commission for promoting economic cooperation after 16 years. The development comes against a backdrop of improving bilateral relations and renewed pledges to address the long-running conflict over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister, Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri and his Indian counterpart Natwar Singh, announced the re-establishment of the commission during two days of talks in Islamabad to review the 21-month-old peace process between their countries.

The commission held its first meeting and is expected to expand cooperation in business, agriculture, education, and science.

Mr. Kasuri underscored the commission's significance during a joint press conference Tuesday.

"The two ministers expressed satisfaction at the revival of the joint commission and hoped that the joint commission would contribute significantly to strengthening the mutually beneficial relations and cooperation between the two countries," he said.

But neither side reported significant progress on their main political dispute over the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir.

India and Pakistan have gone to war three times in the past 50 years, twice over Muslim-majority Kashmir, which both sides claim.

India insists Pakistan do more to prevent Islamic militants from crossing the border into Indian-controlled Kashmir to launch attacks. Pakistan says it has done enough to address India's concerns.

But Mr. Kasuri says both India and Pakistan remain committed to addressing the issue in future talks.

"The ministers reiterated that possible options for a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the issue of Jammu and Kashmir should be explored in a sincere, purposeful and forward looking manner," he added.

But the foreign ministers discussed withdrawing troops from the disputed Siachen Glacier, the world's highest battlefield that straddles the cease-fire line dividing Kashmir.

The two sides also pledged not to allow terrorism to impede the peace process between the nuclear armed rivals.

On Monday, India and Pakistan also agreed to give each other advance notice of ballistic missile tests and set up an emergency hotline between their coastguards.

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