New visa pact to be signed today
Islamabad, Sep 7: The much-awaited visa agreement between India and Pakistan could be signed Saturday, Indian sources said here Friday.
The visa agreement could be a game changer for people-to-people contact between the two neighbours as visa rules for specified categories could be eased by both sides.
"The agreement is likely to be signed tomorrow (Saturday)," an Indian external affairs ministry source said here.
Though India had said earlier that it was ready to sign the visa pact, Pakistan had to clear some formalities on its part.
The new visa policy will have eight categories.
"The types include diplomatic, non-diplomatic, 36 hour transit visit, tourist visas, civil society, media and business visas," Pakistan daily The News reported on its website, quoting Pakistan foreign office sources at the end of the two-hour long meeting between the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan here Friday.
"The tourist visa will be limited to five destinations and will be valid for a period of six months, while the diplomatic visa category will offer visas to the consular, the consular mission and their family members," the daily said.
The two foreign secretaries, India's Ranjan Mathai and Pakistan's Jalil Abbas Jilani, met here Friday before the minister-level talks between Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and his Pakistan counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar Saturday.
Both India and Pakistan maintained that the talks, lasting for over two hours, were "positive" and "frank".
"Talks were positive and very good. We had an overview of issues before Foreign Minister-level talks and now we will brief our Ministers," Pakistan Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani told PTI here.
The talks between Jilani and his Indian counterpart Ranjan Mathai was a preparatory meeting to finalise the agenda for the parleys between External Affairs Minister S M Krihna, who arrived here today, and Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.
MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, "The talks were cordial, frank and very positive. They discussed all aspects of the resumed dialogue and reviewed the entire expanse of the discussions held so far".
He said that the two sides acknowledged that progress has been made in bilateral relations but agreed that "much more needs to be done".
The Foreign Secretaries also reviewed the outcome of the working group of the Joint Commission, held yesterday, and will now report to their Ministers, Akbaruddin said.
In today's meeting, the Indian delegation, led by Mathai, included Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Sharat Sabharwal, Joint Secretary (Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan) in the Ministry of External Affairs, Yash Sinha, and other senior officials.
The Pakistan delegation was led by Jilani and consisted of High Commissioner to India Salman Bashir, Director General (South Asia) at the Pakistan Foreign Office Zehra Akbari and others. IANS/PTI
Lastupdate on : Fri, 7 Sep 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 7 Sep 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 8 Sep 2012 00:00:00 IST
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