Officials from India and Pakistan have met to discuss the possible resumption of a stalled peace process. The meeting was held Sunday on the sidelines of a regional conference in Bhutan. The discussions are another step in building trust between the two rival nations.
Indian and Pakistani diplomats made no specific announcements, but sounded positive after their late Sunday discussions in the Bhutanese capital, Thimpu.
Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao expressed optimism on Monday. But she also said government leaders would remain realistic, pointing out that the relationship between the two countries is "complex.”
"We talked about the process to chart the way forward, what the best modalities would be," Rao said.
The meeting in Bhutan was held on the sidelines of a South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation conference. It was the first time in six months that officials representing the two countries met to discuss the possibility of resuming peace talks. India suspended peace talks more than two years ago after terror attacks in Mumbai killed more than 160 people. The attacks were blamed on Pakistan-based Islamic militants.
There had been some expectation that the two countries would set a date for resuming full-fledged peace talks, but that did not happen.
Commenting on the meeting, Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna said in New Delhi that the two countries are trying to re-build trust, and build bridges of confidence.
"The very fact that the two foreign secretaries have met, it is certainly an indication of the fact that solid foundations are being laid for getting the two countries on to a sustained engagement," Krishna said.
India is under pressure to return to the negotiating table and resolve its many differences with Pakistan.
But New Delhi accuses Islamabad of not doing enough to bring the Pakistan-based perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks to justice. It says relations between the two countries cannot improve unless Pakistan cracks down on the Islamic militant group, Laskhar-e-Taiba.
Pakistan says it has put on trial seven of the suspected Mumbai attackers. Meanwhile, Islamabad says it wants New Delhi to take action against those responsible for the 2007 bombing of a train that runs between the two countries.