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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 18 February, 2003, 12:43 GMT
India and Pakistan let envoys back
Senior diplomat Sudhir Vyas (L) walks into Indian territory at Wagah
Diplomats from both sides had to travel over land
India and Pakistan say they have agreed to allow senior diplomats back into each other's capital eight days after a bout of tit-for-tat expulsions.

India's TCA Raghvan and Pakistan's Munawar Saeed Bhatti would head their respective missions as the new charge d'affaires, reports say.

India expelled Pakistan's acting Ambassador Jaleel Abbas Jilani, and four colleagues, after police accused him of funding Kashmiri separatists, an allegation he strongly denied.

Islamabad then expelled Mr Jilani's Indian counterpart, Sudhir Vyas, accusing him of "actions unbecoming of their status" a term that usually refers to spying.

Both embassies have remained without ambassadors for over a year since India and Pakistan withdrew their senior envoys during a military stand-off.

The confrontation came after the attack on the Indian parliament in December, 2001, which India blamed on Pakistani-backed militants.

No improvement

Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha says the two countries have agreed to grant visas to each others' diplomats so that they can take up their posts.

"Simultaneous [visa] clearance is expected today," the Indian spokesman Navtej Sarna was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying on Tuesday.

Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokar told the BBC that his country had proposed visa exchanges, and if India agreed, Islamabad would approve the exchange of deputy ambassadors.

Analysts say relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours have hit the lowest point since last year when they came close to armed conflict.

They say the agreement to restore diplomatic contacts does not indicate relations are improving.



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