India, Pakistan to resume talks on Feb 25

Nasir Jaffry AFP 13.02.2010 17:10

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan and India will soon hold their first official talks since the Mumbai attacks, Islamabad announced on Friday, in a move seen as a significant bid to ease regional tensions.

"It was decided that foreign secretary level talks between the two countries would be held on February 25 in New Delhi," the Pakistani government announced.

There was no immediate confirmation of the talks from New Delhi, which last week initiated hopes of a thaw in relations since the 2008 Mumbai attacks by proposing talks between the countries' top foreign ministry officials.

Tensions between the nuclear rivals, which have fought three wars since British partition of the sub-continent in 1947, have fanned instability on their border, in the divided Himalayan territory of Kashmir and in Afghanistan.

The move towards direct talks has been seen as a result of pressure from the United States, which is keen to keep South Asia trouble-free while deploying tens of thousands more troops into battle against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

US national security adviser James Jones was in Pakistan again on Friday for talks with government and military leaders on regional security.

Pakistan said its side "should raise all the core issues and impress upon India the need for the expeditious resolution through resumption of Composite Dialogue" -- a reference to Islamabad's desire for fully fledged peace talks.

"The prime minister directed the foreign secretary, who was also present in the meeting, that his talks with his Indian counterpart should be result oriented and meaningful," the prime minister's office said.