Omar Welcomes Indo-Pak Agreement

The chief minister, Omar Abdullah, Saturday welcomed signing of the much-awaited liberalized visa agreement between the Indian external affairs minister, S M Krishna, and Pakistan interior minister, Rahman Malik.

The agreement provides for group tourist and pilgrim visas, separate visa for businessmen and visa on arrival for those over 65 years of age, reports said. According to a party spokesman, Omar said such steps would go a long way in rebuilding trust and in giving impetus to people-to-people contact. “This is a significant move, such steps would facilitate and contribute positively in all measures aimed at bringing thaw in the ties between the two neighbors and resolving issues amicably and in peaceful atmosphere” Omar said. “The smooth relations between India and Pakistan have good effect on our state and bad relations create an adverse result. So we must welcome the dialogue process between the countries,” he said.

“Internal dialogue between the state and the centre is also of significant and should be taken up on priority” he added. The chief minister was hopeful the two countries would devote attention to resolving smaller issues like converting cross-LoC trade into normal trade from the present barter status.

Omar added his “party and government will continue to play its role as a facilitator of dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad and the central government and the state.” Omar also welcomed the release of all Indian fishermen saying that it’s a “great gesture”. Meanwhile the CPI (M) state secretary, M Y Tarigami, agriculture mnister, Gulam Hassan Mir, and Democratic Freedom Party president, Hakeem Yaseen, have welcomed the agreement. They said such steps would go a long way in normalizing relations between the two neighbors. However, they said such steps need to continue and more needs to be done.

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