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India - Pakistan Joint Statement issued at Nuvara Eliya, Sri Lanka

March 19, 1999

The Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Sartaj Aziz and the Minister of External Affairs of India, Shri Jaswant Singh met today on the sidelines of the 21st Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers at Nuvara Eliya, Sri Lanka.

They reiterated the historic significance of the Lahore Declaration which embodies the vision of the Prime Minsters of the two countries for ending the legacy of tensions and conficts of the past fifty years and for ushering a new era of peace, security and prosperity. They discussed ways and means to build on the Lahore Declaration which commits the two countres to build trust and confidence, develop mutually beneficial cooperation and intensify their efforts to resolve all outstanding issues including Jammu and Kashmir.

The two Foreign Ministers agreed on the urgency of taking concrete measures for implementation of the Lahore Declaration, the Memorandum of Understanding and the Joint Statement issued during the Lahore Summit. In this context, the Ministers agreed that the composite and integrated dialogue process must be intensified.

The Ministers agreed to the following:

(i) The meeting of Experts for implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding will be held over the next two months.

(ii) The next round of the composite and integrated dialogue process in accordance with the agreed agenda will commence in May 1999 in New Delhi and Islamabad and will be held over a period of six weeks.

(iii) They will meet shortly after the conclusion of the May-June Round of the composite and integrated dialogue process.

(iv) The Committee on humanitarian issues composed of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Pakistan and the Minister of State of External Affairs of India set up by the Prime Ministers at the Lahore Summit will meet in April 1999 to formalize the agreement on the issue of release of civilian prisoners as well as to discuss other humanitarian issues.

(v) That both sides have agreed to relax the visa regime for several categories of visitors. The specific visa relaxation measures shall be announced by the two Governments shortly.

(vi) Delegations of experts from India shall visit Pakistan during April 1999 for identifying areas of cooperation in information technology, Y2K and WTO-related issues.