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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 August 2005, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
Nuclear rivals to free prisoners
Indian interior minister Shivraj Patel (r) with Pakistan interior secretary Syed Kamal Shah
Indian interior minister Shivraj Patel (r) with Pakistan interior secretary Syed Kamal Shah
India and Pakistan have decided to free hundreds of civilian prisoners in each others jails, officials say.

The two sides have decided to release all civilians whose identities have been established and who have completed their prison terms on 12 September.

The agreement was reached after two days of talks in Delhi.

But there is no mention of the fate of an Indian prisoner facing the death penalty for carrying out bomb attacks in Pakistan.

The agreement to release prisoners in each other's jails came at the end of talks between senior interior ministry officials of the two countries.

An unnamed Indian interior ministry official was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying that many prisoners remained behind bars after they had completed their sentences because of the tense relations between the two countries.

"We have made a fairly substantial move forward on various issues, which is an achievement," a joint statement issued by the both sides said.

The issues of terrorism and drug trafficking were also discussed at the talks.

"Both sides reiterated their commitment to combat terrorism and re-emphasised the need for effective steps for the complete elimination of this menace," the joint statement said.

'Mistaken identity'

In a related development, Indian diplomats met an Indian prisoner on the death row on Tuesday after consular access was granted, an official said.

Swapandeep Kaur shows off a photograph of her father Sarabjit Singh
Singh identified himself as Manjit and Sarabjit at trial, Pakistan says
Manjit Singh was sentenced for carrying out a series of bomb blasts in 1990. Islamabad says he was working for Indian intelligence.

Earlier this month Pakistan Supreme Court upheld his death sentence.

Since then his family has been pleading for his release, threatening suicide if the sentence is carried out.

They say that it is a case of mistaken identity and that he is really Sarabjit Singh.

But so far there has been no move to pardon him.

Pakistan's Human Rights Commission chairman Asma Jahangir told the BBC that official documents available to the rights body showed the government did not have a strong case against Singh on spying charges.

Legal experts say since the case has already gone through the entire judicial process, only Pakistan's president can stop the execution by accepting his mercy petition.

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