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India, Pakistan Hold Peace Talks

Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, right, arrives with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir, for talks at the Foreign Office in Islamabad, Pakistan, June 23, 2011.

India and Pakistan are holding talks focused on peace and security in a bid to repair relations that have been strained since the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks.

India's Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart, Salman Bashir, met Thursday in Islamabad to start two days of discussions on a wide range of issues, including control of the disputed Kashmir region.

Prior to the meeting, Rao told reporters that she had come to Pakistan "with an open mind and a constructive spirit" to work towards building trust and confidence between the two nuclear-armed nations.

A four-year peace process between the longtime rivals collapsed after gunmen killed 166 people in the Mumbai attack.

India blamed the assault on Pakistani militants from the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba group, while Pakistan has acknowledged that at least part of the plot was hatched on its soil. The two countries have fought three wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947, including two over Kashmir.

Pakistan's Deputy Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani told reporters Thursday that Pakistan was looking to move the dialogue forward and achieve concrete results for the sake of bringing peace to the region.

The talks are expected to clear the path for ministerial-level meetings in India next month.

India says the dialogue should focus on terrorism and the need to overcome a "trust deficit" between the two countries. Pakistan insists that India should move beyond terrorism and focus on other issues, such as peace, security and the Kashmir dispute.

Last month, the two nations made little progress during discussions on how to demilitarize the world's highest battlefield, the Himalayan glacier of Siachen.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.