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South Asia peace 'irreversible'

Manmohan Singh, right, and Pervez Musharraf wave to the crowd at a cricket match.
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India and Pakistan's leaders work on cross-border ties.
• Timeline: Kashmir history
• In-depth: Where conflict rules
Pervez Musharraf

NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- The leaders of India and Pakistan have issued a joint statement declaring the peace process between their two nations "irreversible" after a weekend of successful talks.

With Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf standing next to him, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in New Delhi on Monday the two would address the decades-old Kashmir issue in a bid to reach a "final settlement."

Since the partition of the subcontinent in 1947, India and Pakistan have been bitter rivals. During five decades they have fought three wars, two of them over the disputed region of Kashmir, which is divided by the "Line of Control."

But recently tensions have abated, and in their statement on Monday the two said they would boost business ties and cross-border travel, set up a joint economic commission and open consulates in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) and Karachi by the end of the year.

Among the most concrete moves, the nuclear-armed neighbors agreed to open up the heavily militarized frontier dividing Kashmir, setting up meeting points for divided families and cultural exchanges.

They also decided to add more services to the bus route linking Pakistani-controlled Kashmir and Indian-controlled Kashmir that started this month.

Before the statement, Musharraf said he was pleased at the progress, calling it a good sign for peace in the subcontinent.

But despite Musharraf's upbeat tone, India has made it clear that nobody should expect a dramatic change of position on Kashmir in the short-term.

During the discussions that lasted just over two hours, Singh once again stressed Islamabad should not allow its territory to be used for staging terrorist attacks against India, and made it clear India would not agree to a redrawing any of the Kashmir borders.

Instead he reminded his guest it was time to re-inject life into old trade and business associations to build a more secure future for the region.

In an exchange of gifts, Singh gave Musharraf -- who was born in India -- an Indian birth certificate and a painting of his ancestral home.

Musharraf and Singh attended a cricket game between Pakistan and India before their meeting.

After the leaders left, the game was temporarily delayed when Indian fans tossed bottles onto the pitch as their team was losing.

Pakistan's players briefly left the field but later went on to get the better of the Indians.

On a 2001 trip to India, Musharraf's efforts to negotiate a solution failed. But he said Monday the mood was much different this time around, noting there was more harmony and good will.

A spokesman for the Indian leader said the talks were "wide ranging" and were "held under a very warm atmosphere," adding they were "very positive, fruitful and forward looking."

--CNN New Delhi Bureau Chief Satinder Bindra contributed to this report.

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