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India, Pakistan Resume Peace Talks


India and Pakistan have resumed a peace process that was halted earlier this year by deadly train bombings in Mumbai. Anjana Pasricha reports from the Indian capital, where the talks between the South Asian rivals are taking place.

The day-long talks in New Delhi between Indian foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and his Pakistani counterpart, Riaz Mohammed Khan, focused on issues ranging from terrorism to the disputed region of Kashmir.

Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna called Tuesday's talks positive.

"It was a very detailed meeting, it was held in a very constructive and positive atmosphere," he said.

The top diplomats of the two countries are picking up the threads of a peace dialogue that almost came unraveled in July, after bombings that killed 186 people in Mumbai. India accused Islamabad's spy agency and a Pakistan-based Islamist group of involvement in the bombings.

Islamabad denies any links to the bombers. The talks were put back on track after the Indian and Pakistani leaders decided to create a joint anti-terrorism mechanism to counter terrorist attacks in the region.

Indian officials say combating terrorism is one of the most important issues on their agenda, and they want progress on the issue.

India blames most terrorist attacks, both in its part of divided Kashmir and in the rest of the country, on Islamic groups based in Pakistan. It wants Pakistan to clamp down on these groups' activities. Islamabad says it has already done so.

Sukh Deo Muni, a former professor of South Asian affairs at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University, says Tuesday's dialogue was significant, because it showed that both countries are committed to keeping the three-year old peace process on track.

He said, "It is very slow, there are occasional disruptions in it, but ... it is being kept alive. There is a double pressure on both these states. One is the pressure from within these countries by the people who do not want peace dialogue to be disrupted. On the other hand there is international pressure."

The peace process between the South Asian rivals covers everything from their dispute over the divided region of Kashmir to trade and cultural ties.

Pakistani officials have said they want progress on proposals to demilitarize the Siachen Glacier. This is a 55-hundred-meter-high icy battlefield in the disputed Kashmir region where Indian and Pakistani troops have faced off since 1984.

The negotiations have helped ease tensions between the two nuclear-armed countries.

The two have opened their once-tightly guarded border, and are observing a ceasefire in Kashmir, although a lasting solution on the Himalayan region - the primary source of tension between them - is still nowhere in sight.