Wednesday, February 24, 2010

India and Pakistan resume peace talks on the thorny issues

Few major breakthroughs are expected when India and Pakistan resume peace talks on the thorny issues that have led the nuclear-armed neighbours to three wars over six decades.

India wants the talks to focus on complaints that Pakistan has not done enough to crack down on militant groups who have carried out attacks in the country, especially those behind the November 2008 siege of Mumbai.

Pakistan is calling for wide-ranging negotiations that will focus on long-standing issues, including the conflict in disputed Kashmir and tensions over their shared water sources.

"We want to discuss and resolve all disputes with India," Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said in Lahore as he prepared to head to New Delhi to meet his counterpart, Nirupama Rao.

Indian officials, unsatisfied with Pakistan's efforts against militants, have been careful to say the meeting does not represent a resumption of a full-scale peace process.

The talks are a political risk for New Delhi as the public does not trust Pakistan. However, the government does not want to write off diplomacy and wants to keep tensions low between the countries.

The US, which is intent on eliminating all distractions from Pakistan's fight against militants along its frontier with Afghanistan, has been pushing for a resumption of the talks.

The US hopes that a reduction in tensions would help Pakistan shift its focus from the Indian border to the offensive against Taliban militants in the north west of the country.
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