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Pakistan Welcomes Indian Delegates to Peace Conference

August 10, 2003|From Associated Press

LAHORE, Pakistan — A delegation of Indian lawmakers and journalists arrived in Pakistan on Saturday for a peace conference organized by Pakistani journalists, in the latest effort to ease tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

The 59 delegates were warmly welcomed by Pakistani political parties and human rights workers, who shouted slogans of peace and showered them with rose petals.

"We are not carrying any official message, but we are here to show our brothers and sisters in Pakistan that we are sincere in wanting peace," Indian lawmaker Laloo Prasad Yadav said.

The group -- 33 lawmakers and 26 journalists -- were to spend a couple of hours in the eastern city of Lahore before heading to the capital, Islamabad, where the conference will be held today and Monday.

During the conference, the delegates will encourage both governments to resume stalled peace talks.

They will also discuss Kashmir, a divided Himalayan region that both India and Pakistan claim in its entirety

Pakistan's delegation will include 20 editors and 15 experts on Indian-Pakistani relations. All the meetings will be closed to the public except for the opening and closing ceremonies.

Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir and were at the brink of a fourth war last year after a Dec. 13, 2001, attack on the Indian Parliament. New Delhi blamed the assault on two Pakistani-based militant groups and Pakistan's spy agency.

Pakistan outlawed the militant groups but denied involvement.

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