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9/10/04 - INDIA-PAKISTAN DIALOGUE  - 2004-09-10


The foreign ministers of India and Pakistan have concluded another round of peace talks. The talks in India’s capital, New Delhi, set the stage for an expected meeting at the United Nations later this month between Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and India’s new Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Mr. Singh says he is optimistic about improving relations between the two south Asian countries:

“My specific agenda is to normalize and expand our multifaceted relationship, to ensure that the two of us can work together to carry forward the peace process and carry forward the dialogue, which in due course of time will yield constructive results.”

Since India and Pakistan became independent countries in 1947, they have fought three wars. And concerns about the devastation that another war could cause were raised when both countries tested nuclear weapons in 1998. A major source of tension is Kashmir, a mountainous region divided between India and Pakistan. In the past fifteen years, an estimated forty-thousand people have died in Kashmir from fighting, terrorism, and human rights abuses. Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Masood Khan says that Kashmir was discussed in the New Delhi talks:

“It has been discussed frequently. Let us hope that this current phase of engagement between the two countries leads to a just and lasting solution of the Kashmir dispute.”

“Less than about two years ago,” said U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, “we were concerned about a major conflict between [India and Pakistan], and now they are in discussions with one another. Kashmir is a very difficult issue,” said Mr. Powell. “It will take time to resolve. . . . So let’s take heart in the reality that [India and Pakistan] are discussing all issues. . .of which Kashmir is one, and both have acknowledged that.”

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