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India, Pakistan Move Toward Cease-fire Enforcement

Indian Border Security Force (BSF) Director General D.K. Pathak, center left, and Pakistani Rangers Director General (Punjab) Maj. Gen Umar Farooq Burki, center right, chat as they leave after their meeting with Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New D

India and Pakistan are said to have agreed to devise new mechanisms for ending cease-fire violations in the disputed Kashmir region, preventing civilian casualties and reducing border tensions.

The measures are being discussed during three days of talks between senior Indian and Pakistani border security officials that are underway in New Delhi.

Participants are discussing ways to de-escalate border tensions, prevent incidents of cease-fire violations, safeguard civilians, stop the infiltration and movement of smugglers and ensure the safe and early return of villagers who inadvertently cross the border on either side.

The meeting concludes Saturday when its outcome is announced in the form of a joint declaration, say officials in both countries.

Devendra Kumar Pathak, who heads India's delegation, spoke to reporters Friday.

“So far I can only say at this point that it was a meeting which was held in a very cordial and very constructive atmosphere and we have resolved almost all our issues,” Pathak said.

The two sides are said to have agreed that cease-fire violations by either side will not be retaliated against immediately and that efforts will be made to probe the incident and defuse the situation. They also agreed no action should be taken against “inadvertent border crossers.”

The biannual meeting is held alternatively in India and Pakistan; but the latest discussions have come after a gap of more than 18 months because bilateral tensions and continuing instances of cease-fire violations along the Kashmir frontier hampered high-level security talks.

The national security advisers of India and Pakistan were set to meet in New Delhi last month, but disagreement over the agenda prompted cancellation of the long-awaited talks. Both sides blamed the other for backing out.

The recent border skirmishes in Kashmir and along the so-called Working Boundary separating the Indian-controlled portion of the Himalayan region from Pakistan’s Punjab province killed dozens of civilians and displaced thousands on both sides.

A senior military official in Islamabad, speaking to VOA on condition of anonymity, acknowledged the discussions between the delegations are "so far being held in a positive and cordial atmosphere.”

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