Pakistan, India to Resume Peace Talks

Top Foreign Ministry officials from Pakistan and India will resume the South Asian rivals' peace process next month that was put on hold after the July bombings on Mumbai's commuter rail network that killed more than 200 people, officials said Tuesday.

The foreign secretaries will hold talks in New Delhi on Nov. 14-15 to review the third round of the composite dialogue between the two neighbors that started in early 2004, a Pakistani Foreign Ministry statement said.

The meeting had been scheduled in July, but was postponed by India after the Mumbai bombings amid Indian accusations that the perpetrators were Islamic militants aided by Pakistan's spy agency. Pakistan denied any involvement.

India's Foreign Ministry confirmed that Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammed Khan would visit for talks with his Indian counterpart Shri Shivshankar Menon.

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Pakistan and India have a history of hostile relations, and have fought three wars since the partition of the subcontinent on independence from Britain in 1947, principally over their competing claims to the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir.

The peace process has helped ease tensions, and the nuclear-armed neighbors have weathered the recent war of words over the Mumbai bombings without a military escalation.

But the three rounds of wide-ranging dialogue on issues such as trade, cultural ties and border disputes has moved slowly since it began nearly three years ago and made little progress on settling the core Kashmir dispute.

Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had agreed to resume the peace talks when they met on the sidelines of the Nonaligned Movement summit in Cuba last month. They also agreed to set up what they described as an anti-terrorism "mechanism" to work together on identifying and stopping terrorists.

India accuses Pakistan of supporting Islamic militants fighting Indian security forces in Kashmir. Several militant groups that have been fighting for independence or Kashmir's merger with Pakistan since 1989 are based in Pakistan, but Islamabad says it gives them only diplomatic, not material, backing.