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India, Pakistan Unveil CBMs

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Carrying forward their engagement process, India and Pakistan on Wednesday  announced new Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) notwithstanding the unhappiness in India about new Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar's meeting with Kashmiri separatist leaders here.

The CBMs include increasing cross-LoC trading days and expanding travel to include tourism and religious aspects apart from relaxing 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 CBMs were announced after the discussion between External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and 34-year old Khar during which both sides expressed the intent to move forward and forge a "cooperative" relationship although they stuck to their known positions on key issues such as J-K and terror.

Replying to a query on Indo-Pak position on Kashmir and Khar's meeting with Hurriyat leaders yesterday, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, at a joint press conference with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir, said "neither of us underestimate the difficulties involved. There are divergences and that divergence was illustrated yesterday by the meetings you referred to.

"We have a very different point of view from Pakistan on that particular event and we have expressed our concerns in a frank and candid manner to the Pakistani side on this", Rao said.

However, downplaying the Khar-Hurriyat meeting, Bashir said "too much should not be read" into the meeting. Khar has said "the meeting yesterday cannot be construed in any manner, either intentionally or by design, to cast any shadow on today's talks. It is to the contrary," Bashir said.

Khar, within hours of her arrival, had met both the factions of Hurriyat Conference- one led by hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani and other by moderate leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq at the Pakistan High Commission here.