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Saturday, 14 July, 2001, 15:33 GMT 16:33 UK
Musharraf seeks fresh start with India
Musharraf scatters petals at Mahatma Gandhi memorial
President Musharraf paid his respects to Mahatma Gandhi
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has begun his historic trip to India, saying he wants to improve relations between the two countries.

He said he wanted to establish peaceful, tension-free and co-operative relations between the two countries which have twice gone to war over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

When it comes to peace efforts you will not find me wanting

President Pervez Musharraf

"I will be looking forward to a meaningful, frank and substantial discussion, urging them to join hands with us in resolving the dispute in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people," he said.

President Musharraf is the first Pakistani leader to visit India in six years and it is the first summit between the nations for two years.

Kashmir question

Before the visit, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said the status of Kashmir was non-negotiable - he wants the summit to cover a wider range of issues.

President Musharraf, quoted by a Pakistani official, described Mr Vajpayee as a "bold and courageous" man and a statesman.

President Musharraf
President Musharraf: Looking for areas of agreement despite Kashmir
"I have come here to end the politics of hatred," he told Indian intellectuals at a reception held at the Pakistani mission in Delhi.

"When it comes to peace efforts you will not find me wanting," he added.

But President Musharraf also had a more controversial half-hour meeting with Kashmiri separatist leaders - a move that had been opposed by the Indian Government.

Separatist leader Mirwaiz Omar Farooq told the BBC he was very happy with the meeting and that the president extended his moral, political and diplomatic support.

"He also assured us that he recognised us as the primary representatives of the Kashmiri people," he said.

With the main talks due on Sunday, President Musharraf's first day has been largely ceremonial.

Home

On Saturday morning, the president met senior Indian ministers before a lunch meeting with Mr Vajpayee.

And he also made a more personal journey, as he visited the home where he was born but left more than 50 years ago after partition.

Only hours before President Musharraf's arrival, Indian and Pakistani troops exchanged fire across the line of control, which separates them in Kashmir.

The authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir said two civilians were killed in a clash between separatist militants and security forces - the first reported clash this year.

Making history

President Musharraf received a ceremonial welcome in the rain-swept forecourt of the imposing presidential palace - once the home of the British viceroy.

Anti-Musharraf protest by Kashmiri Hindus
Hindus displaced from Kashmir urged India not to make any concessions

A BBC correspondent in Delhi says the most powerful image of the day came as President Musharraf laid a wreath at the memorial to the Indian independence leader, Mahatma Gandhi.

He is the first Pakistani leader to visit the memorial.

President Musharraf then held his first meetings with India's foreign and home ministers.

Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh said after the meeting: "We must traverse the highway of peace together so that we are able to address the principle adversary that chases the two countries which is poverty, want and hunger."

Mr Vajpayee hosted a lunch for Mr Musharraf where he met a cross-section of Indian celebrities including movie stars, politicians, artists and writers.

President Musharraf also made an emotional trip down memory lane when he visited his childhood home in old Delhi - a crumbling mansion that once belonged to his family.

As he approached the narrow alleyway leading to the house, he was reunited with an old woman - who was employed as a domestic help in the Musharraf family home when the president was a child.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jill McGivering in Delhi
"President Musharraf struggled to remain positive"
The BBC's Owen Bennet Jones in Islamabad
reports on how the summit is being received in Pakistan
Indian Industry minister Omar Abdullah
"I'd be surprised if we have detailed declarations"
Punun Kashmir's chairman Dr Agnishekhar
"We do not expect much from this summit"
See also:

14 Jul 01 | South Asia
Indian press cautious on summit
14 Jul 01 | South Asia
Pakistan migrants live in hope
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