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Indo-Pak delegation-level talks begin in Islamabad

Islamabad, Sep 8 (ANI): Bilateral talks at the delegation level between India and Pakistan have begun here this morning. External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna is leading the Indian delegation at the talks, while the Pakistan team is being led by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.
Before the commencement of talks, both leaders shook hands with each other.
India and Pakistan are expected to sign a liberalized visa agreement during the meeting.
Eight categories of visas, including diplomatic, non-diplomatic, transit, tourist visas, civil society, media and business visas would be offered. The tourist visa would be limited to five destinations with validity for a period of six months.
At present, they were allowed only two or three destinations. The diplomatic visa category is also being liberalized, allowing family members to visit consular mission staff.
Five hundred Pakistanis would be allowed to visit Ajmer Sharif Dargah and Sikhs would be allowed to visit gurudwaras in Pakistan during Gurupurab.
Those above 65 years of age would be given visa on arrival.
The visa agreement would be signed today between Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior Affairs Rehman Malik and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna.
Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik had earlier on Friday welcomed the signing of the proposed visa agreement.
"Those who are 65, our elders, will enjoy it more, because they will not have to get the visa. They can go and see their sons, grandchildren, and of course, their old friends," he said.
The meeting between the two Foreign Ministers comes a day after the Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan met in Islamabad to discuss all aspects of the resumed dialogue and fine tune the agenda for the ministerial bilateral talks.
Foreign Secretaries Ranjan Mathai and Jalil Abbas Jilani took stock of the progress made in bilateral ties and also charted the course to be taken for the next round of talks between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
Krishna had yesterday said that he had come to Pakistan with a message of goodwill from the government and people of India.
"I am very happy to visit Islamabad at the invitation of the Foreign Minister of Pakistan and my esteemed colleague Hina Rabbani Khar. I bring a message of goodwill from India for the people of Pakistan," Krishna said soon after his arrival.
"I wish to reiterate the desire of India to see a stable and prosperous Pakistan living in peace with itself and the world. That would be in the best interest of everyone," he added.
Asserting that the leadership of India and Pakistan have mandated building of trust and confidence between our two countries, Krishna said: "We are committed to finding solutions of all issues that have beset our relationship through peaceful bilateral dialogue, while we look to the future where our two countries are able to live together in an atmosphere of friendliness and all-round cooperation, free from terror and violence."
"My endeavour during this visit will be to promote the objectives that I have just mentioned," he added.
This is Krishna''s second visit to Pakistan since 2010.

By Smita Prakash (ANI)

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