SLUG: 2-270687 Pak-India-Kashmir (L-O) DATE: NOTE NUMBER:









INTRO: Pakistan says a significant - number of its troops have begun to pull out from the border dividing Kashmir. The Pakistani move follows Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's statement extending a ceasefire against separatist guerrillas in India's part of Kashmir. From Islamabad, Ayaz Gul reports.

TEXT: A Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman, Riaz Mohammad Khan, says India's extension of a ceasefire in the disputed Kashmir region is not enough to bring hope for an early resumption of peace talks over Kashmir.

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The statement made by the prime minister of India has a positive tone. Yet it falls short of a clear response to Pakistan's initiative of second December that could justify optimism for the early start of a negotiating process for a just settlement of the Kashmir dispute.

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Mr. Khan says Pakistan's decision to partially withdraw its forces from the border in Kashmir should help and encourage India to start what he calls a meaningful dialogue process.

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There have been conditional statements emanating from New Delhi, which shows a certain reluctance to seize the opportunity that has opened up with Pakistan's offer. India clearly needs to make up its mind for a meaningful dialogue process.

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The Pakistan spokesman says the original ceasefire announced by India for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and Pakistan's decision to exercise maximum restraint on the Line of Control dividing Kashmir are means to reach a solution, and not an end in itself.

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The latest unilateral step to withdraw a part of our troops from the L-O-C (ceasefire line in Kashmir) is yet another demonstration of Pakistan's willingness to reduce tensions and is part of our policy of exercising maximum restraint along the Line of Control.

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The disputed region of Kashmir has caused two wars between India and Pakistan. It remains a major source of tension between the two South Asian nations. The latest peace moves by the two countries have raised hopes for the resumption of a stalled dialogue process to resolve the 53-year old dispute. (SIGNED)