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Indo-Pak talks: Pranab Mukherjee to meet Musharraf

May 20, 2008 10:48 IST

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will call on Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad on Wednesday and discuss various aspects of bilateral relations including taking forward the Composite Dialogue Process.

Officials said that the meeting would be a 'courtesy call'' on the Pakistan President by the External Affairs Minister.

Mukherjee, who is scheduled to arrive in Islamabad later today for discussions with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmoud Qureshi to take forward the CDP into the fifth round, would also meet Pakistani leaders Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari and Awami National Party president Asfandyar Wali Khan.

This would be the first contact between India and the new government in Pakistan after the February elections.

The two countries would discuss finalising trade across the Line of Control by allowing truck service on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route, when the Foreign Ministers of the two countries meet in Islamabad on Wednesday, sources said.

India has already made arrangements and built infrastructure for the operationalisation of the truck service, a long-standing demand of the business communities from both sides of the divide.

Godowns and the Customs office have been constructed on this side of the LoC. Double-laning of the road stretch between Baramulla and the Kaman Post near the LoC had also been completed.

The truck service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad had been delayed due to lack of adequate response from Pakistan, mainly because of the internal political developments here.

Official sources said, ''India had done everything required to open the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road for trade.'' The cross-border bus service, named as Karvaan-e-Aman (Caravan of Peace), was launched by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi from Srinagar on April 7, 2005, after nearly 58 years, following an agreement between India and Pakistan to allow families, separated since 1947, to meet one another.

The 170-km Srinagar-Muzaffarabad Road, also known as the Jhelum Valley Road, was closed for traffic on October 27, 1947, when Kabailis (tribesmen) invaded parts of Jammu and Kashmir, which later came to be known as Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

Sources said that during the talks with Qureshi, Mukherjee would raise a slew of proposals as part of Confidence Building Measures, including more bus services across the Line of Control, operationalisation of truck service and liberalisation of permit system.

The vexed Siachen issue would also figure during the talks.

The External Affairs Minister is likely to press for a Kargil-Skardu and Jammu-Sialkot bus service.

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