India, Pakistan break ice at talks
Neighbors agree to free fishermen, continue negotiations
In this story:
April 9, 1997
Web posted at: 12:00 p.m. EST (1600 GMT)
NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- India and Pakistan held upbeat
peace talks on Wednesday, agreeing to continue negotiations
on problems that have brought their countries to war three
In a goodwill gesture, the Asian neighbors agreed to free
several hundred fishermen held by the countries for illegally
fishing in each other's waters.
The foreign ministers of both nations decided the fishermen
would be released as part of an effort to address
humanitarian issues dividing the longtime rivals, Indian
Kashmir tops list of issues
Other issues at stake include trade and cultural ties, but
the thorniest problem is the disputed region of Kashmir.
Pakistan says Kashmir is the core of their problem and must
be addressed first. India says because Kashmir is the
toughest issue, it should be dealt with later so progress can
be made on easier matters. India controls two-thirds of
Kashmir and Pakistan the rest.
More than 20,000 people have died in separatist conflict in
the region since armed insurgency began in 1989.
India has accused Pakistan of providing material aid to
separatist militants, a charge Pakistan denies.
India recently held elections in Jammu and Kashmir state, but
violence continues unabated.
Both leaders pleased
Overall, both leaders said they were pleased with the outcome
of their talks.
"It was our first one-to-one meeting, and I am very satisfied
with it," Pakistani Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan told
reporters after a 90-minute breakfast meeting in New Delhi
with his Indian counterpart, Inder Kumar Gujral.
"He represents the views of both of us. I endorse
everything that he said," said Gujral, who had hugged the
visiting minister when he arrived for the talks at a former
prince's palace, now used for official functions and
The meeting between Gujral and Khan marked the first talks
since negotiations resumed last month after a three-year
hiatus marred by diplomatic sniping and an insurgency in
"They were briefly able to touch on a number of important
issues," an Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman said. "They
both have given clear directions to their foreign secretaries
to maintain the tempo of the ongoing dialogue."
The two nations, which have fought three wars since
independence in 1947, resumed high-level talks last month
when their foreign secretaries -- the highest-ranking civil
servants in the foreign ministries -- held four days of
Gujral and Khan said they hoped the foreign secretaries would
hold another round of talks in Islamabad, Pakistan, before a
summit of the South Asian Association for Regional
Cooperation set for May 12-14 in the Maldives capital, Male.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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