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India's Foreign Minister in Pakistan for Talks


Pakistan and India held talks to review progress in their slow-moving three-year-old peace dialogue Saturday. As VOA's Benjamin Sand reports from Islamabad, there were no major breakthroughs, but both sides hailed the talks as a significant step toward improved relations.

Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee met with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and other Pakistani leaders Saturday.

Both sides vowed to redouble their efforts to improve relations, and announced a fourth round of peace talks scheduled for March.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri told reporters, progress had been made toward resolving the longstanding dispute over the Siachen glacier, where thousands of Pakistani and Indian forces have squared off since 1984.

"Given the political will, it can be resolved in days, because a lot of work has been done, and his excellency Foreign Minister Mukherjee and I are aware of what work has been done," he said.

The glacier is widely considered the world's highest battleground and hundreds of soldiers from both countries have been killed in combat and from the region's freezing winter weather.

In a written statement released Saturday evening, President Musharraf said a new, more positive atmosphere had taken hold of the bilateral peace talks.

General Musharraf, as he has in the past, said the divided region of Kashmir remains at the very heart of the two countries' decades' old conflict.

Both countries claim the Himalayan highland, and the nuclear armed rivals have fought several wars and countless skirmishes over the disputed territory.

New Delhi has repeatedly accused Pakistan of supporting insurgent forces operating inside Indian-controlled Kashmir. Pakistan denies the charge.

Fighting in the region has claimed nearly 45,000 lives since the insurgency began in 1989.

Islamist militants with alleged ties to Pakistan have also staged a series of deadly bomb attacks inside India itself.

The two foreign ministers confirmed on Saturday the launch of a new joint anti-terror group, aimed - at least in part - at easing tensions over those attacks.

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