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India, Pakistan to address problems of fishermen

August 04, 2004 17:50 IST

India and Pakistan on Wednesday agreed to address issues concerning civilian prisoners and fishermen in each other's custody.

They also discussed the need for liberalising the visa regime and facilitating travel to more pilgrims.

A joint statement issued at the end of the two-day talks on promotion of friendly exchanges said that the two sides discussed the scope of the 1974 protocol on visits to religious shrines by increasing the number of pilgrims on both sides.

"The discussions were held in a very cordial and constructive atmosphere," external affairs ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said.

Both sides made proposals for promoting friendly exchanges and cooperation in the fields of art, culture, archaeology, education, science and technology, youth affairs and sports, media and tourism.

"Implementation of the programmes would be undertaken through mutual coordination," the statement said.

Secretary (Culture), Neena Ranjan, led the Indian delegation to the talks, being held as part of the composite dialogue process; Jalil Abbas, secretary (minorities, tourism, culture and youth affairs), led the Pakistani team.

The eight-member Pakistani delegation called on Information and Broadcasting Minister S Jaipal Reddy and also met Meenaxi Anand Chaudhry, secretary (youth affairs and sports).

New Delhi suggested a slew of measures, including lifting of the Pakistani ban on Indian TV channels, newspapers and periodicals.

Abbas stressed on the need to enhance friendly relations between the two nations, specially in fields of culture and tourism, and to increase visits of student delegations.

New Delhi also requested Islamabad to free 54 Indian prisoners of war who have been in Pakistani custody for over three decades.

It was also suggested that the two sides could hold exhibitions, film festivals in each other's countries, exchange publications and also organise visits by theatre groups.

India invited Pakistan to participate in an exhibition being organised by the Lalit Kala Academy next year.

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