Despite War Of Words, Peace Bid Inches Ahead At Embassy Levels

New Delhi, September 23: | Updated: Sep 24 2003, 05:30am hrs
India on Tuesday proposed to Pakistan an increase in the staff strength of Indian and Pakistani missions in Islamabad and New Delhi.

It also comes ahead of Mr Vajpayees address to the UN General Assembly in New York on September 25 and his talks with American president George W Bush here on Wednesday.

The government decision was conveyed to the Pakistani high commission in New Delhi and through the Indian mission in Islamabad to Pakistani authorities.

Following the December 13 attack on Parliament, among the stiff measures taken by India was to reduce by 50 per cent the staff strength of its mission in Islamabad from 110. After tit-for-tat expulsions, this went further down to 47.

The increase in the staff level has also been warranted following the stepped-up demand for visas and travel on the Delhi-Lahore bus, as well as visits of delegations.

Pakistan has also been informed that a visit by a team from Pakistan Indus Waters Commission to Baglihar project in J&K would be organised in October in response to a request from Islamabad for a site visit, an external affairs ministry statement said.

Official sources said the Pakistan Commission of Indus waters had requested for a visit to Baglihar sometime back. So far, the visit could not be arranged in view of the security situation, they said.

The visit will now be arranged to enable the Pakistani side to further satisfy itself that the project is within the framework of the Indus waters treaty.