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UN Chief Welcomes Meetings of Indian, Pakistani Leaders

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan hailed Monday the recent meetings between leaders of India and its arch rival Pakistan, the first of its kind in more than two years. 

Annan "considers that these meetings represent another important step forward in the continuing bilateral efforts to improve relations and resolve outstanding issues between the two countries," said a statement issued by a UN spokesman.


The UN chief "urges both sides to continue with these efforts and hopes the summit meetings will give a new impetus to serious and sustained dialogue," the statement said.


Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vjpayee held talks with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad on Monday morning on the sidelines of an annual summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. On Sunday, he met briefly with his Pakistani counterpart, Khan Jamali.


The meetings raised hopes of easing tensions between the two neighbors, which have been at odds over Kashmir and other issues.


(Xinhua News Agency January 6, 2004)

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