Fresh dialogue: foreign secretary Nirupama Rao with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir
INDIA and Pakistan have agreed to resume formal peace talks that were broken off by New Delhi after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Indian sources said today.New Delhi and Islamabad have been under pressure from the US to reduce tension because their rivalry spills over into Afghanistan, complicating peace efforts there.The decision was made at a meeting between the two countries’ top diplomats in Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu, on the margins of a regional conference.New Delhi suspended a 2004 peace process between the two sides after the Mumbai attacks of 2008, blaming Pakistan-based militants for the deaths of 166 people.Since then officials from the two nations have met to improve ties but have shied away from resuming talks - called the composite dialogue - that included resolving their differences over issues including Kashmir. “The new talks are in effect the formal resumption of the composite dialogue,” said a senior Indian government official involved in repairing ties with Pakistan.“What happened in Thimphu is that we both agreed there is support for the (peace) process (on both sides),” the official said, adding the new round of talks would not be called “composite dialogue”.When asked whether formal talks were being started, another Indian official replied: “Yes, it’s another attempt,” though he stressed that progress would be “incremental”.A Pakistani government official wouldn’t confirm the decision, but said there had been progress.Indian government sources said it had been agreed that talks would resume at several levels, including between the home secretaries of the two countries “in the coming months”, leading up to talks between their foreign ministers later this year.
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