Leaders of India, Pakistan to hold talks Thursday

THIMPHU, Bhutan (AP) — The prime ministers of India and Pakistan will talk on the sidelines of a regional meeting Thursday, an Indian official said, indicating a possible thaw in relations between the South Asian nuclear rivals.

Peace talks between India and Pakistan were stalled after a terror attack on Mumbai, India's financial hub, in 2008 in which 166 people were killed. New Delhi blamed the attacks on Pakistan-based militants.

Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said Wednesday the nations "agreed through diplomatic channels" that their leaders would meet in Thimphu, the Bhutanese capital where both are attending a summit of leaders of eight South Asian countries.

In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters Wednesday that the United States is encouraged by high-level India-Pakistan meetings. "That is good for the region and we support it," Crowley said.

India and Pakistan have been under pressure to resume dialogue despite New Delhi's continued insistence that Pakistan has not done enough to rein in Muslim extremists.

Foreign secretaries of the two nations held a brief round of talks in February, but India says Pakistan has to bring militants responsible for the Mumbai attacks to justice before New Delhi agrees to a resumption of a full-fledged dialogue.

Since independence from Britain in 1947, nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan have fought three wars, two of them over the Himalayan region of Kashmir, which both claim.

The February meeting after a void of 15 months was a significant diplomatic achievement — even if it came in the wake of months of pressure from Washington, which is eager to see Pakistan shift resources away from the Indian border and toward supporting the U.S. in its fight against the Taliban and al-Qaida.

Pakistan has called for the resumption of comprehensive peace talks, but India has demanded it crack down on militants first, especially Hafiz Saeed, whom India accuses of orchestrating the Mumbai siege.

India says Pakistan must do more to dismantle terror networks and has given Islamabad dossiers on those linked to the Mumbai attacks.

Pakistan is trying seven men on charges they planned and carried out the Mumbai attacks, but the militant network blamed for the assault continues to operate relatively freely in the country.

India announced Wednesday the arrest of a diplomat in the Indian embassy in Islamabad on charges of spying and passing information to Pakistani intelligence agencies. No further information was given on the charges.