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Pakistan, India Begin Formal Talks - 2004-02-16

After a gap of nearly three years, Pakistan and India have begun three days of formal talks to try to resolve their dispute over Kashmir and other bilateral issues.

The two sides will hold discussions to set up a meeting on Wednesday between their respective foreign secretaries. That meeting will be aimed at establishing a framework for a long process of engagement between the nuclear-armed rival nations.

"Since they are resuming these talks after a long time, they will have to look at the agenda, the structure of the talks and the future course of action," says Masood Khan, the spokesman for Pakistan's foreign ministry.

The talks are expected to focus mainly on the Kashmir dispute, the cause of two of the three wars India and Pakistan have fought since 1947.

The relentless tensions over the disputed region brought the two countries to the brink of another war in 2002, but those tensions have since eased, and the two have taken a series of graduated steps towards a normal relationship.