Mumbai investigators allowed to travel to Pakistan

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 29, 2011 2:36 PM
Mumbai investigators allowed to travel to Pakistan

By Nigam Prusty

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Pakistan will allow Indian investigators to travel to Pakistan to probe the 2008 Mumbai militant attacks in a major confidence-building measure long demanded by New Delhi that was announced after bilateral talks that ended on Tuesday.

The top civil servants in charge of security issues met in New Delhi for two days as part of gradual efforts to rebuild trust after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which had raised fears of a fourth war between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

It came just a day before the two sides will square off on the cricket pitch in the hotly anticipated World Cup semi-final, where Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will host his Pakistani counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani in a diplomatic push.

The two sides also agreed to set up a hot line to discuss terror threats in "real time."

"Pakistan conveyed its readiness, in principle, based upon the principle of comity and reciprocity, to entertain a commission from India with respect to Mumbai terror attack investigations," a joint statement said.

Dates for a visit of a Pakistani delegation to India in connection with the Mumbai attacks would be decided within 4-6 weeks, according to the statement.

This week's dialogue will pave the way for a ministerial meeting in July to discuss issues such as the disputed territory of Kashmir and efforts to clamp down on terrorism in what is known as the "composite dialogue."

The New Delhi government had suspended ties after the Mumbai assault, a massacre of 166 people which India blamed on Pakistan-based militants acting in collusion with elements of the government, including Pakistan's spy agency.

India has also been frustrated at what it sees as Pakistani reluctance to bring the perpetrators of terror to justice, feeding a climate of mistrust that is the legacy of three wars the South Asian nations fought since independence in 1947.

Peace efforts have for years progressed in fits and starts with little progress on issues such as the future of Kashmir, which is divided between India, Pakistan and China. A string of high-profile militant attacks such as Mumbai and an attack on the Indian parliament in 2001 have put ties into free fall.

(Reporting by Nigam Prusty; writing by Matthias Williams)