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India hints at restarting talks with Pakistan

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India's Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh at her office in New Delhi, on August 1, 2013. India has hinted at restarting peace talks with rival Pakistan that stalled over clashes earlier this year in the disputed region of Kashmir. (AFP)

India hinted Thursday at restarting peace talks with rival Pakistan that stalled over clashes earlier this year in the disputed region of Kashmir.

Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh said India would be "picking up the threads" of peace talks with the new Pakistani government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, which was elected in May.

"There is a new government in Pakistan now. We will be picking up the threads from where we left off with the old government," Singh, the top official in the ministry, told reporters in New Delhi on her first day in the job.

Singh however said that any dialogue with Islamabad "presupposes an environment free of violence and of terror".

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947 and relations have historically been strained.

Sharif Thursday repeated his call for rapprochement.

"We will boost trade, we will boost business and will boost investment with India," the premier told reporters in Karachi.

"We will also try our best to solve all longstanding issues with India, including Kashmir."

New Delhi broke off peace talks with Islamabad after gunmen killed 166 people in Mumbai in 2008, an attack which India blamed on Pakistani militants. Talks resumed in 2011 with two rounds that focused largely on trade and visas.

But relations soured again in January and February this year after six soldiers in total from both sides were killed in exchanges along the de facto border in Kashmir, a region claimed by both countries.

India alleged that Pakistani troops beheaded one of its soldiers, a claim Pakistan denied.

Tension has continued between the nuclear-armed nations in recent months, with both sides protesting at the deaths of prisoners held by the other.

Last week in another incident, Pakistan said Indian troops had killed a soldier in an "unprovoked" attack in Kashmir while the Indian army said it had fired in a "calibrated manner" in response to Pakistani firing.

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