Source Pravda.Ru

India offers US$25 million to Pakistan quake relief

India has offered US$25 million (Ђ21 million) in aid to Pakistan, an Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman said, in the latest goodwill gesture between the two countries since a powerful earthquake devastated the disputed Kashmir region.

India made the offer at a meeting of the United Nations in Geneva on Wednesday, spokesman Navtej Sarna said.

"Pakistan is free to use the money for rebuilding homes, rehabilitating people and reconstructing infrastructure, and restoring essential services," Sarna said.

The Oct. 8 quake killed about 78,000 people in Pakistan, most of them in the Pakistan-controlled portion of Kashmir, which is split between the South Asian neighbors. More than 1,300 people died on the Indian side.

India and Pakistan rivals for decades but now talking peace have traded offers and counteroffers as they try to forge a shared relief effort in the Himalayan region.

Last week Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf proposed to allow residents from India's portion of Kashmir to cross over the highly militarized Line of Control that divides the region to meet with relatives on the Pakistani side and help with relief work. New Delhi welcomed the move and its military has since started work on relief camps along the frontier for quake victims on the Indian side.

Sarna said Thursday that Pakistan may also source supplies of building materials such as cement and steel from Indian companies. He said New Delhi can also help in sharing its expertise in building prefabricated quake-resistant shelters, reports the AP.

P.T.