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MEP welcomes opening of Kashmiri trade route.

October 21, 2008 5:40 PM

MEP welcomes opening of Kashmiri trade route.

Euro- MP Liz Lynne has said that today's reopening of the trade routes between India and Pakistan through the disputed territory of Kashmir is a step towards peace in the region.

The trade routes across the divided territory, which both India and Pakistan claim, were reopened as part of the 2004 peace agreement between the two countries. Today will be the first time that lorries and trucks will have crossed between the Indian- administered, and the Pakistani- administered zones since 1947.

It marks the latest stage in a series of moves to build confidence in the region, which also include the opening of rail and bus links across the disputed area.

Liz Lynne MEP, who is a member of the European Parliament's Delegation to South Asian Countries and is also the President of the LibDem Friends of Kashmir, said that she hoped that the opening of the trade routes will help cement the 2004 agreement in the face of difficult political times, especially in Indian-controlled Kashmir where there has been an increase in violence in recent months with mass protests over Indian rule resulting in 30 people being killed in clashes between protesters and police.

Liz Lynne said:

"I am very pleased that the trade routes have finally been reopened after all these years. This is a small step along the road to finding a solution in the region. I now hope that both sides can build from this and reaffirm their commitment to peace and stability for Kashmir and the Kashmiri people.

"This is a great opportunity, not just for the peace movement in Kashmir, but also for Kashmiri traders who have been devastated by the trade blockade. They will now have a chance to sell their goods and to begin to rebuild their lives and the regions economic prospects.

"It is very important that the Kashmiri people are involved in discussions as to the future for the region, and that their right to self determination in all matters is recognised.

"I very much hope that the trade routes remain open and that they can become a symbol of a new era in the Kashmir dispute."