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Saturday, 9 March, 2002, 17:22 GMT
Pakistan meeting 'bridges differences'
Sushma Swaraj greets Pakistani minister
Sushma Swaraj (left): First Indian minister to visit since coup
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By Owen Bennett-Jones
BBC correspondent in Islamabad
The Pakistani Information Minister, Nisar Memon, says a regional conference of information ministers should help bridge misunderstandings in the region.

The conference of member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (Saarc) closed in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, on Saturday.

Nisar Memon said that the Saarc meeting had made significant progress on a number of issues.

He said it was held in an atmosphere of religious and cultural tolerance. The ministers decided to work towards annual meetings of newspaper editors and journalists from Saarc countries and to increase co-operation in areas such as media training.

Television appearance

Asked about the recent block put on the signal of state-controlled Pakistani television in some parts of India, Mr Memon said such matters were bilateral in nature and therefore not discussed directly at the Saarc conference, which dealt with multilateral issues.

The most striking aspect of the Saarc conference was the presence in Pakistan of the Indian Information Minister, Sushma Swaraj.

Her visit was the first by an Indian minister since General Musharraf's coup in 1999.

During her stay she appeared live on Pakistan television for a 45-minute interview.

She was repeatedly asked about the Kashmir dispute, but said she did not want to discuss it as she was a guest in Pakistan and did not want to say anything that might cause bitterness.

See also:

06 Mar 02 | South Asia
Indian minister goes to Pakistan
29 Jan 02 | South Asia
India snubs Pakistan over talks
13 Jan 02 | South Asia
Bush urges Pakistan-India dialogue
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