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Pakistan, Indian Foreign Ministers Meet in Effort to Ease Tensions Over Kashmir


With tensions increasing in the disputed Kashmir region, the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan met in the Sri Lankan capital for a closed-door discussion on the sidelines of a regional summit. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Colombo.

It was all smiles as Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Indian counterpart emerged from an hour-long talk behind closed doors.

Relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbors have become strained recently. There have been clashes on their disputed Kashmiri border and a bomb blast in early July at the Indian embassy in Kabul in which 41 people died.

Afghanistan blamed the attack on the Pakistani intelligence service, and Indian media have pointed a finger at Islamabad for being behind last week's serial bomb blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad.

Indian and Pakistani officials say Qureshi and Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee discussed all relevant issues.

Qureshi says, as a result, tensions have eased considerably.

"A lot of steam has been let out of the pressure cooker. And didn't you see us smile," he asked. "I will always want to walk into a room with my Indian counterpart . But most important I would like to walk out smiling, and I walked out smiling."

Earlier, standing beside Qureshi at a brief appearance for reporters, the Indian foreign minister was more circumspect.

Pranab Mukherjee says details of their discussion will not emerge until after their two prime ministers meet Saturday.

"We will first brief the prime ministers and after the meeting of the prime ministers we will be in a position to give you the details," he said.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani are to hold their first face-to-face talks during the summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. They will be the highest-level talks between the two countries in 15 months.

Earlier this week, India accused Pakistani troops of crossing the Line of Control where a cease-fire has been in place for eight years. Pakistan has rejected the claim.

Kashmir has been the catalyst for two of the three wars fought between India and Pakistan.