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India, Pakistan hold talks on militants, prisoners
Updated: 2005-08-29 15:58

India and Pakistan, seeking to nudge a slow peace process forward, began talks on Monday to curb terrorism and drug trafficking and work out prisoner exchanges, Reuters reported.

The talks will be followed this week by a meeting of the heads of both foreign departments to lay the ground for talks between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf at the l U.N. assembly in Septemer.

The Indian team at Monday's two-day talks is led by Home Secretary Vinod Kumar Duggal while heading the Pakistani delegation is Interior Secretary Syed Kamal Shah.

The peace process has seen slow progress over the past two years with a decades-old dispute over the Himalayan territory by far the most contentious issue.

Both sides claim the territory. India accuses Pakistan of fomenting a revolt by Islamic militants in Indian Kashmir.

On Sunday, troops shot dead four militants trying to sneak into Indian Kashmir, India's army said.

Officials from both sides will also discuss prisoner exchanges, after a public outcry in India over Pakistan's decision to execute an Indian convicted of spying.

Pakistani authorities said Manjit Singh worked for Indian intelligence and was involved in bomb blasts in Pakistani cities.

The convicted man's family says he is actually Sarabjit Singh, a farmer from the Indian state of Punjab who accidentally crossed the frontier while drunk. His family members have threatened to commit suicide if he is executed.

Analysts said the uproar over the case was an opportunity to start work on procedures on how to deal with prisoners.

Both sides have hundreds of prisoners in each other's jails. The majority are fishermen and civilians who strayed across sea and land borders.

"This is an opportunity to talk about how to treat prisoners humanely and how to get them home," strategic affairs analyst Jasjit Singh told Reuters. "It's a do-able thing."

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