India, Pak agree to expand Cross-LoC travel and trade

Islamabad: India and Pakistan on Saturday agreed to expand Cross-LoC travel and trade as part of the efforts to build up Confidence Building Measures (CBM) between the two countries.

This was agreed during India’s External Affairs Minister S M Krishna’s meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar here.

The Ministers reviewed the existing Cross-LoC CBMs and acknowledged that the ceasefire was holding since 2003.

Taking note of the recommendations made by the Joint Working Group (JWG) on Cross-LoC CBMs in its meeting here on July 19, 2012, the ministers decided that Cross-LoC travel would be expanded on both sides of LoC to include visits for tourism and religious pilgrimage.

Such visits will be conducted by designated Tour Operators in groups not exceeding 15 persons.

Permits for such visits will be single entry, non-extendable and valid for up to 15 days and both sides will facilitate speedy clearance of applications for travel across LoC. The process time should not be more than 45 days, said a joint statement released after the Krishna-Khar meeting.

To expand Cross-LoC trade regular meetings between the traders on monthly basis on both sides will be facilitated and designated authorities will resolve operational issues concerning Cross-LoC trade through regular meetings.

The two sides will respect list of 21 products of permissible items for Cross-LoC trade, the statement said. Both sides also agreed to facilitate the exchange of business delegations.

The JWG on Cross-LoC CBMs will meet on a bi-annual basis to review existing arrangements and suggest additional CBMs and measures for Cross-LoC travel and trade, the joint statement said.

The ministers expressed satisfaction at the increasing number of people of Jammu and Kashmir who are able to avail of the facility to travel across LoC, and also at the growing Cross-LoC trade benefitting them on both sides of the LoC.

They also welcomed the enhancement of the number of days for conducting trade across LoC from two to four per week, as had been agreed by them.