India hopes to build trust with Pakistan as Kashmir talks begin

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 23, 2011 7:49 AM
India hopes to build trust with Pakistan as Kashmir talks begin

ISLAMABAD, June 23 (Reuters) - The top diplomats of India and Pakistan held their first formal talks on disputed Kashmir in two-and-a-half years, meeting in Islamabad on Thursday to nudge forward their slow-moving peace process.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao was due to hold two days of talks with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir.

With India-Pakistan rivalry often spilling into Afghanistan, the United States is hoping the peace process will gather pace in tandem with its plans to gradually withdraw troops.

President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced plans to withdraw 10,000 troops by the end of the year in the first step toward ending the decade-long war in Afghanistan.

"I have come to Pakistan with an open mind and a constructive spirit in order to work toward building trust and confidence," Rao said in a statement on her arrival in Pakistan.

This should lead to "an eventual normalization of relations for the well-being and prosperity of our two peoples."

The foreign secretaries will prepare for a meeting of foreign ministers in India in July 2011.

India broke off peace talks with Pakistan after the attack by Pakistan-based militants on Mumbai in November 2008 that killed 166 people.

Earlier this year, the two countries held talks on a range of issues including a border dispute over a river estuary, a conflict over the Siachen glacier -- the world's highest battlefield - and ways to build commercial ties.

The foreign secretary-level talks are expected to improve ties between the two neighbors, but the two sides do not expect any major breakthrough.

(Reporting by Zeeshan Haider, editing by Myra MacDonald and Sanjeev Miglani)