Top India, Pakistan security officials hold talks in Bangkok

AP News
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Posted: Dec 06, 2015 9:24 AM
Top India, Pakistan security officials hold talks in Bangkok

NEW DELHI (AP) — The top security officials from India and Pakistan held talks in Thailand's capital on Sunday, signaling a resumption of the rival countries' on-again, off-again peace dialogue.

The South Asian neighbors' national security advisers discussed issues including peace and security, terrorism, the disputed region of Kashmir and ways to maintain peace along the countries' shared border, according to a joint statement issued in New Delhi and Islamabad.

The meeting, which also included the nations' foreign secretaries, marks a thaw in the recent frostiness that had crept into bilateral relations. Talks between the two national security advisers were called off in August after the sides disagreed on the agenda for discussions.

The statement said Sunday's meeting in Bangkok was held in a "candid, cordial and constructive atmosphere."

"It was agreed to carry forward the constructive engagement" between the two countries, it said.

This past week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, had an unscheduled meeting at the Paris climate change talks.

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is expected to visit Pakistan on Monday to attend a meeting on Afghanistan, said a ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. Bangkok was chosen for the venue Sunday because it was a convenient location for both sides, he said.

Since independence from Britain in 1947, India and Pakistan have fought three wars, two of them over Kashmir, the Himalayan region that both claim in its entirety.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and training insurgents fighting for Kashmir's independence from India or its merger with Pakistan, a charge Islamabad denies. More than 68,000 people have been killed in the violence, which began in 1989.

India also wants Pakistan to bring to justice Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that killed 168 people. Saeed lives in the open in Pakistan and often appears in TV interviews.

Another concern for both countries is the frequent border skirmishes that erupt along their border in Kashmir. A cease-fire along the India-Pakistan line of control that serves as the border in Kashmir has largely held since 2003, but border firing and gunbattles are fairly common, with each side routinely blaming the other.