New Delhi: India and Pakistan on Wednesday announced additional Confidence Building Measures related to Kashmir, including increasing cross-LoC trading days and expanding travel to include tourism and religious aspects.

After the "satisfactory" talks between External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar, the two sides also decided to relax permit conditions for travel by people of Jammu and Kashmir to the other side of LoC by having a system of six-month multiple entry.

The two ministers discussed Jammu and Kashmir, counter-terrorism measures, including progress in the Mumbai attacks trial in Pakistan, humanitarian issues, commercial and
economic cooperation, Wullar Barrage/Tulbul Navigation Project, Sir Creek, Siachen, peace and security including CBMs and promotion of friendly exchanges.

They also agreed to convene separate meetings of the expert groups on nuclear and conventional CBMs, in Islamabad in September 2011.

"The Ministers held discussions on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and agreed to the need for continued discussions, in a purposeful and forward looking manner, with a view to finding a peaceful solution by narrowing divergences and building convergences," said a joint statement issued after the talks.

Krishna later said, "I must say that I am satisfied at the progress achieved in this round of the resumed dialogue. The outcomes have been as per our expectations...While being fully cognisant of the challenges that lie ahead, I can confidently say that our relations are on the right track." On Jammu and Kashmir, Krishna said they will continue discussions with a view to finding a peaceful solution by "narrowing divergences and building convergences".

Expressing satisfaction at the outcome of talks, he said the two sides decided that the Foreign Ministers will meet again in Islamabad in the first half of 2012 to review progress in the dialogue process.

"We are listening carefully to each other and giving serious consideration to the ideas and proposals from both sides that are on the table. I am also confident about our future course of our relations, which has to be normalised for peace progress and prosperity of our two countries and the region," the External Affairs Minister said.

"This is indeed a new era of bilateral cooperation between the two countries and it is our desire and I believe after having spoken to you (Krishna), that it is the desire and commitment of both the governments to make it an uninterrupted and an uninterpretable process," Khar said.

"We have expressed our satisfaction on holding of subject specific meetings during the last five months. We have agreed that the process should continue and in fact there is no alternative to dialogue and constructive engagement," she said in a brief press stake-out after the meeting.

She said, "a new generation of India and Pakistan will see a relationship which is going to be much different than the one we experienced in the last few decades."

Khar, the youngest and first woman Foreign Minister of Pakistan, said they should make every effort possible to narrowing down divergences and building convergences.

"It is important that a responsible state we take ownership of our own affairs. In the recent months we have seen an intensification of contacts at different levels between both the countries," she said.

Omar welcomes cross-LoC CBMs

 Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Wednesday welcomed the cross-LoC Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) announced by India and Pakistan after the talks between the Foreign Ministers of the two countries.

Commenting on the CBMs, Omar described the fresh initiatives on cross-LoC travel and trade as a "good step" on microblogging site Twitter.com.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar announced additional CBMs related to Kashmir, including increasing cross-LoC trading
days and expanding travel to include tourism and religious aspects.

Include Kashmiris in dialogue: Moderate Hurriyat

Welcoming the resolve of India and Pakistan to continue talks on Kashmir, moderate Hurriyat Conference on Wednesday said the dialogue had to be continuous and and Kashmiris should be included in it to make the process fruitful.

"It is a welcome sign that New Delhi and Islamabad have reiterated their resolve to continue the dialogue.

"However, if it has to be result-oriented, the basic party to the Kashmir issue representatives of the people of the state -- have to be included in it," said chairman of the
moderate faction of the Hurriyat Mirwaiz Umer Farooq.

He said the amalgam had always supported the dialogue process but it had to be sustained and time-bound to achieve the desired goal.

Mirwaiz welcomed the Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs) announced by the two countries with regard to cross-Loc trade and travel but stressed the need for implementing the suggestions made by the amalgam for improving the ground situation in Kashmir.

The hardline faction of the Hurriyat, led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, however, said CBMs would only be a superficial measure till the core issue of Kashmir was not addressed.

"These are not the main issues. The basic issue is resolution of the Kashmir issue and it needs to be addressed in its historical perspective," Geelani said.

India and Pakistan on Wednesday announced additional CBMs related to Kashmir, including increasing cross-LoC trading days and expanding travel to include tourism and religious
aspects.

This followed talks between External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar in New Delhi.


(Agencies)