|A Cursed Day for Washington:|
Apr. 18, 2005
India, Pakistan leaders call their peace process "irreversible"
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
NEW DELHI The peace process between India and Pakistan is now "irreversible," leaders of the two longtime rival nations said Monday, announcing a series of agreements to increase trade and cross-border travel in Kashmir and elsewhere.
With Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf standing beside him, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said they had agreed to continue talks on the divided region of Kashmir, the heart of decades of disputes, in "a sincere and purposeful manner" until a settlement was found.
"They determined that the peace process was now irreversible," Singh said, reading from a joint statement the two leaders had just signed.
The two countries agreed to increase the frequency of a cross-Kashmir bus service that started earlier this month and to identify more places along the Kashmir frontier that could be opened to traffic.
They agree to revive a joint commission to boost business ties and to open consulates in the Indian city of Bombay and the Pakistani city of Karachi by the end of the year.
They also vowed not to allow terrorism to thwart the peace process.
Earlier, Musharraf said the talks with the Indian leader were more successful than he had expected, but warned that settling the Kashmir dispute would take a long time.
Musharraf said there had been a change in attitude in Pakistan about Kashmir, which is split between the neighbors but claimed in its entirety by both. The two nuclear armed rivals have fought two wars over it.
"Domestically there is a realization that the military option is not the option any more," he told Indian journalists. "The strategy of a coercive diplomacy is no more an option."