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Pakistan PM in rare visit to India

From CNN Correspondent Ram Ramgopal

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Aziz arrives in New Delhi for his first trip to India as prime minister.
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Pakistan's prime minister visits India in an effort to cement diplomatic gains between the two nations.
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NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- Pakistan's new prime minister has begun a visit to India aimed at consolidating a thaw in subcontinental relations.

Shaukat Aziz arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday and met India's top diplomat, External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh.

"It was a very friendly, positive and forward-looking meeting," Indian foreign ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna told reporters after the talks.

Although Aziz's visit is in his capacity as the chairman of a South Asian regional body, India and Pakistan say they will be talking about issues that concern each other.

Among them, Kashmir -- the Himalayan territory claimed by both sides for more than half a century.

The fledgling peace process received a boost in recent days, with India announcing a pullout of thousands of its troops from Kashmir.

And Pakistan's leaders have proposed new ways of looking at the territorial problem.

"I imagine this is an attempt to get the process moving along," says political analyst Tavleen Singh.

"But if you think there is going to be some dramatic new development, I don't see that happening. But there may be agreement on issues like trade."

India increasingly looks overseas for energy to feed its fuel-hungry industries and automobiles and on the agenda for talks with Pakistan is ensuring access to petroleum and gas supplies.

One proposal is a $4 billion gas pipeline from Iran to India, cutting through Pakistani territory.

"I imagine that this would be an important confidence-building measure," energy analyst R. K. Pachauri says.

"If this project is to implemented it would create a certain amount of goodwill."

That goodwill began with a handshake between Indian and Pakistani leaders in Islamabad in January.

It is Aziz's first trip to India since taking office in August and on Wednesday, he will meet his Indian counterpart, Dr. Manmohan Singh.

Both men are international bankers by training, self-described technocrats who have been thrust into the political arena.

Having been close to war three years ago, India and Pakistan have pulled back from the brink.

And although the leaders of both countries say they are conscious that they do not expect a resolution of all their disputes immediately, the dialogue, they say, is building confidence in each other's motives.


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