- The Washington Times - Friday, January 2, 2004


India sees prosperity through regional unity

ISLAMABAD — India yesterday called for setting aside differences among South Asian countries to march on the path of economic and social prosperity toward a South Asian Union.

“We must set aside all our suspicions of each other wherever they exist and switch on the engine of South Asian growth in order to travel on the road to prosperity. This task brooks no further delay,” Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha told a symposium on regional cooperation here.

Mr. Sinha said South Asian countries must recognize that tension and hostility will disrupt economies, trade and overall wealth aggregation.


Cold snap kills hundreds

NEW DELHI — The death toll from a three-week cold snap gripping northern India reached more than 200 yesterday as authorities struggled to provide emergency shelter to the homeless, reports said.

Nineteen persons died overnight Thursday in the northern plains state of Uttar Pradesh when the mercury plunged to near 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the Press Trust of India news agency said.

Weather-monitoring officials attribute the cold snap to disturbances over the Himalayas.


Kashmir gunfight leaves six dead

JAMMU — Two suspected Islamist rebels opened fire yesterday at Indian Kashmir’s main railway station, killing four security troopers before being fatally shot in a gunbattle that sent passengers rushing for cover, police said.

The attack in the winter capital Jammu came one day before Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was to go to a regional summit in Pakistan, which also claims Kashmir.

Two rebels sporting army fatigues sneaked into the station in the early evening and “opened indiscriminate fire on passengers and security officers,” Indian Kashmir’s deputy chief minister, Mangat Ram Sharma, told reporters.


Official prepared to meet with India

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan is ready for bilateral meetings with rival India at this weekend’s seven-nation regional summit, Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri said yesterday.

“The ball is in India’s court,” Mr. Kasuri told reporters after attending a meeting of the foreign ministers of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, which with Pakistan make up the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

The 12th SAARC summit, opening tomorrow, represents the first chance for Indian and Pakistani leaders to come face to face since coming close to war in 2002 after a deadly attack on India’s Parliament.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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