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Pakistan, India Discuss Kashmir

October 17, 1998

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) _ Negotiators from Pakistan and India discussed their 51-year old dispute over Kashmir today, and agreed to keep talking _ which was the most anyone had expected.

``Our positions are known ... we want to move toward the solution of our problems in the interest of two countries,″ said Indian Foreign Secretary K. Raghunath.

Pakistani Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmed said it would be ``unrealistic″ to hope for an immediate breakthrough for ``one of the world’s most complex issues.″

The two foreign secretaries are expected to issue a joint communique on Sunday when the talks conclude.

Before today’s meeting ended, Sardar Abdul Qayyum, an ex-prime minister of Pakistani-controlled Kasmir told The Associated Press he doubted progress would be made.

``The Indian attitude is still very much inflexible,″ he said.

``The past experience shows that such talks have not made any headway in resolving the Kashmir problem ... though we hope they yield some positive results,″ he said.

The talks, which began Friday, are the first between the two nations’ foreign ministers in more than a year and follow months of tension and exchanges of artillery fire that have killed more than 100 civilians on both sides of the border. Each country holds part of the disputed valley and claims the rest.

India and Pakistan conducted tit-for-tat underground nuclear tests in May that brought worldwide condemnation and sanctions.

India, which has amassed about 600,000 troops on the border, accuses Pakistan of providing assistance to Kashmiri secessionists. Pakistan denies the charge and says it gives only diplomatic and political support.

The talks in Islamabad will run through Sunday and are aimed at easing tensions between the uneasy neighbors, which have fought three wars since gaining independence from the British empire in 1947.

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