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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pakistan, India to Discuss Quake Relief Cooperation

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan -- Officials from India plan to travel to neighboring rival Pakistan to discuss setting up relief camps in Kashmir, officials in both countries said Monday, as the UN warned that hundreds of thousands of people who lost homes in an earthquake earlier this month were still without adequate housing as winter approached.

It remains unclear, however, how the proposals offered by each country could be reconciled on bringing relief to the Kashmiri region that lies along the Line of Control, the cease-fire line that acts as the de facto border in the divided region.

"Basically, the delegation is coming to discuss the proposal that Pakistan had given to India on allowing travel," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said Monday. "The Indian proposal can also be discussed at the meeting."

The Oct. 8 quake has pushed Pakistan and India to lay aside their differences. The two governments were inching closer to a deal in which they would overlook their long-standing dispute over the Kashmir region for the sake of helping the quake victims, allowing them to cross the disputed border.

Opening the border is particularly sensitive for New Delhi, which has fortified the Line of Control to prevent infiltration by Islamic militants who fight Indian security forces, seeking Kashmir's independence or merger with Pakistan.

India has proposed opening three aid camps for Pakistani quake victims on its side but signaled Sunday that it could work with Islamabad's suggestions to allow Kashmiris to cross at five points along the border. India has already provided tons of relief goods to its neighbor and traditional rival.

Aslam said Pakistan was also willing to slightly revise its original proposal, and allow officials from both sides to deliver relief goods at those five points.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, meanwhile, brought help Monday for Pakistani quake victims. "Afghanistan shares in every way the emotions and suffering of our brothers in Pakistan," Karzai said, adding that like his own war-torn nation, Pakistan faced hard work ahead in reconstruction.

Pakistan's army will this week send another brigade of about 2,000 soldiers, including engineers, to Muzaffarabad, the capital of its portion of Kashmir -- to help in the relief effort and the grueling task of clearing debris, said army spokesman Major Farooq Nasir.

Powerful aftershocks were still rattling the region more than two weeks after the 7.6-magnitude temblor wrecked a huge swathe of northern Pakistan and the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir, killing an estimated 79,000 people, including 1,360 on the Indian side.

A magnitude-6.0 quake rocked Pakistani-held Kashmir on Sunday, and at least two more -- the strongest one registering 5.2 -- hit the area Monday. No one was killed in that aftershock, but an earlier tremor killed five people in Afghanistan's eastern Zabul province near the Pakistan border.