India, Pakistan agree to follow-up peace talks

India, Pakistan agree to follow-up peace talks

India and Pakistan on Friday wrapped up a fresh round of peace talks in Islamabad without any breakthrough other than an agreement to meet again in New Delhi.

By (AFP)

Published: Fri 24 Jun 2011, 7:53 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 10:42 PM

Contacts between the two bitter nuclear-armed neighbours are nevertheless considered key to help easing tensions in South Asia as the United States prepares to withdraw 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of next summer.

The talks mark a revival of a tentative peace process, which collapsed for more than two years after Islamist gunmen killed 166 people in Mumbai in November 2008 in attacks that India blamed on Pakistani extremists.

India remains deeply concerned about terrorism from Pakistan, exacerbated by the US discovery of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan last month, and Pakistan still considers India its primary threat despite a Taliban insurgency at home.

The two days of talks were conducted by Pakistani foreign secretary Salman Bashir and his Indian counterpart Nirupama Rao, the highest-ranking career diplomats in their respective ministries.

A carefully worded joint statement listed no concrete agreement other than a commitment to meet again in New Delhi, at a date yet to be announced, to prepare for a pre-arranged foreign ministers’ meeting in July.

Nevertheless original plans for separate news conferences were scrapped in favour of a joint appearance. The atmosphere contrasted positively with acrimony at a foreign ministers’ news conference in Islamabad in July 2010.

The statement said talks were “frank and cordial” and that both sides intended to continue dialogue in a “constructive and purposeful manner”.

India and Pakistan announced in February that peace talks would resume after Bashir and Rao met in Bhutan. Talks have focused on the fate of the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir, peace and security and confidence building measures.

New Delhi has long accused its neighbour of harbouring militant groups, but analysts say it is becoming increasingly concerned that growing unrest in Pakistan could compromise the safety of the country’s nuclear arsenal.

Relations between India and Pakistan, which have fought three wars since the subcontinent was partitioned in 1947, have been plagued by border and resource disputes, and accusations of Pakistani militant activity against India.

Two of the three wars were over Kashmir, where an insurgency against Indian rule has claimed tens of thousands of lives in two decades.

More news from WORLD