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India, Pakistan Foreign Ministers Hold Talks

The foreign ministers of India and Pakistan have held nearly two hours of talks in the Indian capital. No significant breakthroughs were announced as a result of the talks late Wednesday that ranged from the issues of Kashmir to cricket. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in New Delhi has details.

India is rejecting third-party mediation to try to solve its long-standing territorial dispute with Pakistan concerning the Kashmir region.

Speaking at a joint news conference with his Pakistani counterpart, India's external affairs minister, Pranab Mukherjee, brushed aside press reports here that the incoming Obama White House may appoint former U.S. President Bill Clinton as a special envoy to the region on the Kashmir issue.

"This issue is to be resolved through dialog between our two countries. And this is also a part of the composite dialog. Therefore there is no question of having any intervention by any third party," he said.

The nuclear-armed neighbors have fought three wars since their independence from British colonial rule in 1947. Two of the conflicts involved Kashmir.

But reporters directing questions at the two top diplomats had more queries about cricket than Kashmir.

India's cricketers are resisting a planned four-week tour of Pakistan early next year because of security concerns in wake of recent suicide attacks and other bombings there.

Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi is making a public appeal to the India squad.

"We assure you of all the security that is required. We will address all issues that are raised by the experts. So come to Pakistan. The people of Pakistan are keen to receive you," he said.

As a gesture of good will timed to coincide with Qureshi's trip to India, Pakistan released 100 Indian fishermen who had been arrested in Pakistani waters. Indian officials say several hundred more are still being held in Pakistani jails.

India and Pakistan launched a peace dialog four years ago to try to resolve the Kashmir issue and other territorial disputes, including cross-border water rights. But the talks have apparently stagnated of late and this visit by Qureshi is seen as an attempt to revitalize the process.

Both Qureshi and Mukherjee head to Chandigarh on Thursday for a conference on South Asian cooperative development and security.