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Pakistan president urges concessions on Kashmir

President Pervez Musharraf said Tuesday that Pakistan is willing to give up its claim to Kashmir if India reciprocates and agrees to self-governance in the disputed Himalayan region they have fought over for decades.

The comments, in an interview aired by India's NDTV network, were among Musharraf's strongest yet to encourage a settlement in the bitter, 58-year dispute since the South Asian rivals began peace talks nearly three years ago.

There was no immediate reaction from India's government.

The Islamic state of Pakistan and majority-Hindu India both control parts of Kashmir, a predominantly Muslim region in the Himalayan mountains, which was divided between them during partition of the subcontinent on independence from Britain in 1947. They have since fought two of their three wars over it.

In his interview, Musharraf was asked if Pakistan was willing to give up its claim to Kashmir if India also agreed to self-governance in its part of the divided region. He replied, "Yes, we will have to if this solution comes up."

While the willingness to give up Pakistan's claim to Kashmir appeared new, Musharraf was reiterating previous proposals, including troop withdrawals and greater autonomy for Kashmir, that have elicited little response from India.

Analysts in India said Musharraf's comments were likely directed at militants in Kashmir, indicating they can no longer count on Pakistan's support for an independent Kashmir.

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