The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Indo-Pak flight talks next week

Islamabad, Aug. 22 (Reuters): Pakistan today said it was ready to discuss reopening its airspace to commercial overflights from India but dismissed New Delhi’s assertions that it was dragging its feet on resumption of peace talks.

The foreign ministry said aviation officials from the two countries would meet in Islamabad next Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss resumption of air links, severed last year after militants attacked Parliament.

“We hope that these talks would be productive and lead to a quick resumption of air services between the two countries,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The impression that India is seeking to create about ‘foot dragging’ by Pakistan is incorrect and unwarranted,” it added. “India will find Pakistan receptive to positive and constructive steps aimed at reducing tension.”

Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan came close to a war last year after the attack on Parliament, which India blamed on Pakistan-based militants.

In its wake, they downgraded their diplomatic ties and severed air, train and road links.

Relations have warmed since April, with full diplomatic relations and a popular bus service restored, but flights and rail services are still suspended.

India has offered to reopen its airspace to Pakistani flights, but Islamabad declined to reciprocate without full normalisation of ties.

“As far as the issue of overflights is concerned, Pakistan is prepared to discuss the subject at forthcoming talks,” the Pakistani statement said, adding that it was “disingenuous” for India to link this to resumption of train services.

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