India, Pakistan begin talks on trade, transportation links

India and Pakistan began talks Tuesday on increasing trade and transport links in disputed Kashmir and at creating meeting areas for families who have been divided by the dispute in the region that is split between the two countries, officials said. A seven-member Pakistani delegation was in New Delhi for the two-day talks, part of a sweeping peace process begun two years ago by the rival nations.

The talks were expected to cover arrangements for a truck service to conduct trade along the route linking Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, the main cities in Kashmir's Indian- and Pakistani-controlled sections, said a statement from India's foreign affairs ministry.

Also covered will be plans for a bus service linking the two sides' towns of Punch and Rawalkot, the statement said. India and Pakistan have fought three wars since the two sides split upon independence from Britain in 1947. Two of the conflicts were over Kashmir , a mountainous region claimed by both nations.

However, tensions have eased since the start of a peace process in January 2004. Last year the two sides opened the first bus service linking Srinagar and Muzaffarabad. The talks will also focus on creating two meeting areas, where families split by the heavily militarized Kashmir frontier will be able to gather, reports the AP.

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