India, Pakistan exchange prisoners
Swap of inmates precedes Singh-Musharraf meeting
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NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- In the largest exchange of civilian prisoners in their rocky history, India and Pakistan Monday began transferring hundreds of convicts at a border post near the town of Wagah, state-run media reported.
According to All India Radio, New Delhi and Islamabad have agreed to release 585 prisoners, including many fishermen and those who had inadvertently strayed across the border.
The exchange was the latest step in a peace process that has gathered steam in recent months.
The report said India was to release 150 Pakistani prisoners, while Pakistan was scheduled to set 435 Indian prisoners free.
Video showing the release of the prisoners had officials unlocking their handcuffs. Returning Indian prisoners were being welcomed by family members and politicians with garlands of flowers.
Many prisoners had served out their terms for minor crimes, but because of the hostile relations between the nations had not been allowed to return to their countries of origin.
On Wednesday, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is scheduled to meet Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York with the goal of pushing the peace process forward.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars against each other since they broke away from British control in 1947. Two of those wars have been over the Kashmir region.
Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir as their territory.
More than 45,000 people are estimated to have died in Kashmir since hostilities flared up 1989.
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