Accessibility links

India, Pakistan Determined to Continue Kashmir Peace Efforts - 2004-07-23

Pakistan and India say they're committed to settling their territorial dispute over Kashmir. The divided region is at the center of decades of hostility between the two nuclear-armed rivals.

Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh met with Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf Friday, to review progress in the peace process the two countries have resumed to resolve Kashmir and other disputes.

After the 90-minute meeting in the garrison town of Rawalpindi, Mr. Singh gave details of the discussions.

"Both sides reiterated the importance of continuing the dialogue process in an atmosphere free of violence and to tackling the scourge of terrorism with renewed vigor," Mr. Singh said.

Foreign Minister Singh spoke to reporters at the Islamabad airport just before leaving for India. He was in Pakistan to attend a summit of South Asian countries and to review bilateral relations in meetings with Pakistani leaders on the sidelines.

The Indian foreign Minister said he is returning home with renewed determination to normalize bilateral relations and resolve all differences. Mr. Singh described his meeting with President Musharraf as useful and constructive.

"The important thing was that at the highest level it was clearly expressed by the [Pakistani] president that this process should go on and we should meet often," he said. "And both sides are encouraged by the progress that has been made in several other fields in the spirit of friendship and realism."

Officials from India and Pakistan will hold a series of meetings in the coming few weeks designed to build mutual confidence before discussing their dispute over Kashmir.

The Kashmir region has sparked two wars between India and Pakistan and remains the main cause of military tensions in the region.

India controls two-thirds of Kashmir and the rest is administered by Pakistan. Both sides lay claim to the majority Muslim area. India has long accused Pakistan of sponsoring an armed insurgency in the Indian-ruled portion of Kashmir, a charge Islamabad denies.

Analysts believe the resumption of the peace process between India and Pakistan offers the best opportunity in decades for a lasting solution to the Kashmir dispute.