Must address difficult issues like Kashmir: Zardari

Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari today said India and Pakistan must address "difficult issues" like the Kashmir dispute even as they move forward with measures to open up trade.

"Important steps have been taken to open up trade between India and Pakistan," Zardari said during his address to a joint session of the Senate and National Assembly as he outlined policies for his government`s final year in office. "But we must also address difficult issues, including that of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute," said Zardari, clad in a dark suit and standing beside a photo of his slain wife, former premier Benazir Bhutto.

In recent months, India and Pakistan have taken several steps to boost bilateral trade. The Pakistan government recently decided to switch over to a negative list regime for bilateral trade, paving the way for giving India Most Favoured Nation-status by the beginning of next year. Under the negative list regime, Pakistani will not allow the import of only 1,209 items from India.

The two countries have also agreed to increase trade to six billion dollars by 2014. The two countries resumed their peace process last year after a gap of over two years in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Several rounds of talks have been held in areas as diverse as terrorism and cultural exchanges and the Foreign Secretaries are expected to meet soon to launch the next round of parleys.