First India-Pakistan Talks Since 2008 Mumbai Attacks

India and Pakistan have begun their first high-level talks since the devastating attacks on the Indian city of Mumbai (Bombay) at the end of 2008.

India and Pakistan have begun their first high-level talks since the devastating attacks on the Indian city of Mumbai (Bombay) at the end of 2008.

On the eve of the talks the two countries exchanged terse allegations over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

Indian border guards in Kashmir said they came under fire from Pakistan on Wednesday, a claim denied by Islamabad.

The conflicting claims coincided with the arrival of the Pakistani foreign secretary in Delhi for the talks.

Thursday's meetings are the first between the two nuclear-armed neighbours since the Mumbai attacks 15 months ago.

India says those attacks were carried out by Pakistan-based militants.

Decades of hostility

Wednesday's shooting in the south of Indian-administered Kashmir is alleged to have taken place in the Samba area.

"The firing from across the border started early morning. A BSF [Border Security Force] personnel was injured," Vinod Sharma, a spokesman for the border guards, told Reuters news agency.

But Nadeem Raza, a spokesman for Pakistan's paramilitary Rangers, told Reuters: "Our troops were not involved in any firing. There may be some problem on their own side."

The Kashmir dispute has been at the centre of decades of hostility between India and Pakistan and the cause of two of their three wars since independence from British rule in 1947.

Thousands of Indian troops are fighting a two decade-old separatist insurgency in Kashmir.

There has been a spate of clashes along the Line of Control that separates Indian- and Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

India said on Tuesday that three of its soldiers had been killed fighting militants north of Srinagar. Officials say at least two militants were also killed.

The BBC's Altaf Hussain in Srinagar says these are the highest casualties suffered by Indian forces in an operation in the disputed territory so far this year.

Agenda issues

Analysts say the peace talks in Delhi are being resumed under pressure from the US, but few experts expect any major breakthroughs.

"It is good to be back," Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir told reporters as he arrived at Delhi airport.

"I have come here to bridge the differences [and] I am hopeful of a positive outcome."

Mr Bashir - who met Kashmiri separatist leaders in India on Wednesday - is leading a five-member delegation and will meet his Indian counterpart Nirupama Rao for closed-door talks.

Correspondents say the meeting could eventually pave the way for the resumption of the formal peace process broken off after the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 174 people were killed, nine of them gunmen.

But the two sides have very different views of what should be on the agenda during the talks.

Pakistan wants to discuss a range of issues including Kashmir, which both countries claim in its entirety. India, however, says these are "talks about talks" and there is only one item to talk about - terrorism.

If the two sides agree a date to meet again soon, that in itself will be seen as a small achievement.




source: bbc.co.uk