Pakistan, India foreign secretaries to meet on Feb 25

ISLAMABAD: The foreign secretaries of Pakistan and India will meet for talks in New Delhi on February 25, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Friday.

India suspended a four-year-old peace process with Pakistan after an attack on the Indian city of Mumbai by Pakistan-based militants in 2008.

India had been demanding action against the militants it says were behind the assault before the peace process could resume but this month it offered to hold high-level talks despite little progress in Pakistan’s prosecution of seven suspects.

The United States has been urging the two countries to resume engagement to help stabilise the region especially Afghanistan where the neighbours have been competing for influence.

Indian officials say they offered Pakistan open-ended talks on all issues affecting peace and security, emphasising counter-terrorism.

But Pakistan has been pushing for the resumption of the full peace process, which centred on a so-called composite dialogue, covering all problems, including their decades old dispute over the divided Kashmir region.

The two countries’ top foreign ministry officials, their foreign secretaries, would meet in New Delhi on February 25, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s office said in a statement.

“(The) Pakistan side should raise all the core issues and impress upon India the need for the expeditious resolution through resumption of composite dialogue,” it said.

“The prime minister directed the foreign secretary … that his talks with his Indian counterpart should be result oriented and meaningful,” it said.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since their independence in 1947, two of them over Muslim-majority Kashmir, which both claim in full but rule in part.

They nearly went to war again in 2002, after a militant attack on India’s parliament in December 2001.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and sending militants into Indian-administered Kashmir. Pakistan denies that, saying it only gives political support to what it calls a freedom movement.

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