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India and Pakistan Talks End Without Breakthrough

Pakistan and India have concluded another round of their on-going peace dialogue Tuesday but no significant breakthrough is reported in their most contentious territorial dispute over Kashmir.

Top foreign ministry officials of India and Pakistan held two days of talks in Islamabad, primarily focusing on ways to resolve the long-running Kashmir dispute.

The divided region is at the center of decades of hostility between India and Pakistan and has triggered two of the three wars between them.

A joint statement issued at the end of the talks Tuesday reported no progress towards a solution of Kashmir, which both sides claim in its entirety.

Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokar was leading the Pakistani delegation. He says both sides have agreed to carry forward their talks on Kashmir.

"We are mindful of the fact that it has already taken 57 years and that we are not any closer to any solution," he said. "The position of the two countries [on Kashmir] is diametrically opposite. But it is only through a process of dialogue, it is only through a process of discussion that these differences can be narrowed."

Speaking at a separate news conference, head of the Indian delegation, Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran, described Kashmir a complex issue. But he says that instead of reiterating their stated positions, both India and Pakistan should try to find a common ground on which the two countries can build on their plans to solve the conflict over Kashmir.

"We believe that in fact we have embarked on that process. We believe that we are making some progress in that respect," he said. "I go back with a sense of optimism that there is sincerity the commitment on both sides to take this process forward."

As part of their wide-ranging peace process, India and Pakistan also have agreed that more meetings on issues such as border disputes, counter-terrorism and drug trafficking as well as economic cooperation should be held between April and June," he said. "They also have agreed that talks on building confidence on their conventional and nuclear weapons will be held between January and June."

The two sides have decided to promote contacts between the local military commanders along their border while India has proposed setting up five points along the disputed border in Kashmir to allow the reunion of divided families. However, Indian officials say more talks are needed to iron out differences on travel documents to allow the proposed opening of a bus service between the two sides of Kashmir.