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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 October 2005, 14:55 GMT
Landmark Kashmir opening agreed
The Pakistani and Indian delegations at the talks in Islamabad
The talks survived a suspension after the Delhi bombings
India and Pakistan have agreed on an unprecedented opening of the de facto border in divided Kashmir to help victims of the 8 October earthquake.

Families and relief items will be allowed across five points from 7 November, the sides agreed after marathon talks in Islamabad.

The quake killed more than 56,000 people and left millions homeless.

The nations have fought two wars over Kashmir but have engaged in a peace process since 2004.

No vehicles

The BBC's Zaffar Abbas in Islamabad says the talks were suspended in the evening and there were fears they might fail because of the series of bomb blasts in Delhi that killed about 50 people.

But after Pakistan's strong condemnation of the attacks the talks resumed and reached agreement.

Relief items can be sent in both directions and families will be able to cross - but only on foot. No vehicle crossings will be allowed.

Schoolgirls at a relief camp in Pakistan-administered Kashmir

People wanting to cross will need a permit from government officials on either side.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz told the BBC that it would be "a two-way traffic", adding that several relief camps on either side of the Line of Control (LoC) were well-stocked with food and medical aid.

The crossing points are at Nauseri-Teethwal, Chakothi-Uri, Hajipur-Uri, Rawalakot-Poonch and Tattapni-Mendhar.

The talks came after Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf appealed for the LoC that divides Pakistan-administered Kashmir from Indian-controlled Kashmir to be opened to ease relief efforts.

Pakistan-administered Kashmir bore the brunt of the devastation, while India says 1,300 were killed in the sector it controls.

The opening of the LoC is sensitive for India as it believes militants opposed to its rule and who have been fighting an insurgency for 16 years still infiltrate from Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Our correspondent says the delay in opening the line has meant that many affected families living close to the border have already moved away, hoping to get aid and assistance elsewhere.

With winter temperatures set to be lower than usual in the quake-hit areas, the UN has warned that more people could die in the aftermath from lack of food and shelter than in the quake itself.





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