India and Pak discuss modalities for new cross-LOC CBMs

India and Pak discuss modalities for new cross-LOC CBMs

India and Pakistan today discussed ways to strengthen trade and travel arrangements across the Line of Control in the Kashmir region and modalities for introducing new cross-LoC confidence-building measures.

The meeting of the India-Pakistan working group on cross-LoC CBMs, held in Islamabad, was part of the bilateral dialogue process that resumed last year after a gap of over two years in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

It was held in pursuance of a decision made at a meeting of the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries in Delhi during July 4-5, said a joint statement.

"The two sides reviewed the progress since the last meeting of the Joint Working Group on Cross-LoC CBMs and discussed modalities for strengthening and streamlining the existing trade and travel arrangements across the LoC," the statement said.

The Indian delegation led by Joint Secretary Y K Sinha of the External Affairs Ministry and the Pakistani team headed by Zehra Akbari, Director General (South Asia) in the Foreign Ministry, also "discussed modalities for introducing additional cross-LoC CBMs". The statement did not give any details.

The meeting was held in a "cordial and constructive atmosphere", the statement said.

The two countries currently have several CBMs to facilitate travel by bus and trade at several points along the LoC.

However, travel has been hindered by a cumbersome permit system while trade bodies have called for the opening of bank branches of the two countries to boost commerce between the two parts of Kashmir.

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