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Last Updated: Friday, 9 January, 2004, 13:32 GMT
India resumes Pakistan flights
India has resumed commercial flights to Pakistan after a two-year break.

Indian official welcomes passengers off the flight from Pakistan
Travellers flew from Lahore to Delhi last week
A state-owned Indian Airlines aircraft flew from the capital, Delhi, to the Pakistani city of Lahore on Friday.

The flight comes nine days after the neighbours restored air links, with a flight from Pakistan to India.

The two countries broke off most ties in 2001 after India blamed Pakistan for involvement in an armed attack on the federal parliament in Delhi.

Relations have improved in recent months.

Groundbreaking meetings were held in Islamabad earlier this week and direct talks on a range of disputed issues, including Kashmir, are to be held next month, the two sides say.

Families divided

Initially, there will be two Delhi-Lahore flights a week.

A third one linking the commercial centres of Bombay (Mumbai) and Karachi is likely to be announced soon, an Indian Airlines official told the Associated Press.

Pakistan International Airlines has announced six flights a week linking Karachi and Lahore with Bombay and Delhi, and hopes this number could double by March.

Although flights have resumed, stringent visa restrictions remain in place between the two countries.

Thousands of families were divided when the border between India and Pakistan was drawn up in 1947.

For the past two years, those wishing to meet their relatives have had to undertake costly, cumbersome journeys via a third country.

The move to revive commercial air links follows the restoration of a popular bus service between Delhi and Lahore last year.

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