India, Pakistan seek solutions to dispute over Kashmir

Foreign ministers meet for 2-day peace summit

The World

September 06, 2004|By Paul Watson | Paul Watson,LOS ANGELES TIMES

NEW DELHI, India - After eight months of slow progress toward lasting peace, foreign ministers from India and Pakistan met yesterday to search for solutions to their main dispute, the 57-year-old conflict over the divided territory of Kashmir.

Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh and his Pakistani counterpart, Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri, met yesterday, the first day of a two-day summit, and spokesmen for both sides said the talks went well without giving any details.

Although the two nations are discussing a range of issues, Pakistan wants to keep the focus on Kashmir.

Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan said yesterday's talks included India's allegations that militants are crossing into Indian-controlled parts of the territory from Pakistan to conduct bombings and other attacks.

Fighting in the region has claimed tens of thousands of lives since 1989 as insurgents seek to merge the Indian-held part of Kashmir with Pakistan or win its independence.

The summit was originally scheduled for last month to review the progress of a peace process mapped out in January at a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. But the foreign ministers delayed their talks after Vajpayee was voted out of office in May, and lower-level negotiators got bogged down in disputes over technical issues.

One of the most significant sticking points is a proposed bus service that would bridge the 1971 cease-fire line, or Line of Control, that divides Kashmir. India wants travelers crossing the frontier to show passports, but Pakistan has rejected that demand because it doesn't want the cease-fire line to become a permanent international border.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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