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Pakistan, India to Start Cross-Border Bus Services

Mohammed Abbas, left, looks on as his Indian counterpart Alok Rawat, talks to media at the conclusion of their talks in Islamabad, Pakistan
Pakistan and India have agreed they will soon launch two new cross-border bus services as part of their efforts to ease decades of hostility between their nuclear-capable rival nations.

Transport officials from the two neighboring countries met in Islamabad to work out the technical details for a new bus service linking the Pakistani city of Lahore with Amritsar in India.

At the end of two days of talks, the leader of the Pakistani delegation, Mohammed Abbas, told reporters the bus service would start within the next two months, but he would not say exactly when.

Mr. Abbas says the two sides have also agreed to run another bus service between Amritsar and Nankana Sahib, a Sikh shrine in Pakistan.

"The two sides discussed the modalities for operationalization of the Lahore-Amritsar bus service," he said. "It was also agreed in principle to start Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus service. Its modalities and frequency would be discussed in a subsequent technical level meeting to be held in New Delhi in two months time."he said.

Separately, senior maritime officials from India and Pakistan held a second round of talks in Rawalpindi, near Islamabad. On the agenda was the establishment of a communication link between Pakistan's Maritime Security Agency and the Indian Coast Guard.

Officials on both sides say the link will allow rapid exchange of information on smuggling and drug trafficking. They also discussed how to expedite the release of fishermen regularly arrested by both sides for straying into each other's waters.

The latest meetings between India and Pakistan are part of an on-going peace process the rival nations began more than a year ago. Since then they have restored transportation links, including a historic bus service across the cease-fire line dividing the disputed Kashmir region.

The Himalayan region has caused two of the three wars between India and Pakistan. Their current peace dialogue is primarily aimed at developing people-to-people contacts to build confidence between the two countries, before tackling the Kashmir dispute.