India, Pak hold rare talks

SHARM EL-SHEIKH: Pakistan and India vowed to cooperate in the fight against terror in the wake of the devastating Mumbai attacks, leaders of the rival nations said after rare talks on Thursday.

"Both leaders affirmed their resolve to fight terrorism and cooperate with each other to this end," according to a joint statement after the meeting between Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh in Egypt.

It was only the second meeting between the nuclear armed neighbours since the November attacks in the Indian commercial capital of Mumbai which cost 166 lives, and raised hopes of a resumption of peace talks.

"Prime Minister Singh reiterated the need to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice and Prime Minister Gilani assured that Pakistan will do everything in its power in this regard."

The statement described terrorism as "the main threat to both countries" but the two premiers also agreed that action on terrorism should not be linked to peace talks.

The meeting was held on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where more than 50 heads of state were meeting on the second day of the developing world's most important get-together.

Relations between India and Pakistan, which have fought three wars, deteriorated sharply after the Mumbai bombings which New Delhi blamed on the banned Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

Pakistan has said that it would "probably" put the five accused of involvement in the attacks on trial this week.

It is the first top-level meeting since Singh met Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on the sidelines of a summit in Russia last month.

Pakistan on Wednesday expressed some optimism over the direction relations with its neighbour were taking.

"There has recently been some forward movement in our relations with India," Gilani said. "We hope to sustain this momentum and move towards comprehensive engagement. We believe durable peace in South Asia is achievable."

The Mumbai siege left in tatters a fragile peace process launched in 2004 to resolve all outstanding issues of conflict, including a territorial dispute over the divided Himalayan territory of Kashmir.

Peace "will be facilitated by the resolution of all outstanding disputes, including Jammu and Kashmir," Gilani said.

Indian foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon has been holding talks with his Pakistani counterpart Salim Bashir since Tuesday in preparation for Thursday's meeting.

More than 50 heads of state from the developing world are gathered in Sharm to tackle the fallout from the global economic meltdown, with calls for a "new world order" to prevent a repeat of the crisis.

Cuban President Raul Castro said at the opening session on Wednesday that the financial crisis had hit developing nations the hardest.

"Every country in the world must seek just solutions to the global economic crisis," Castro told the 118-member body.

"We call for a new monetary and economic world order... we must restructure the world financial system to take into consideration the needs of developing countries."

India said members should play a bigger role on the world stage.

"Developing countries must be fully represented in the decision-making levels of international institutions," Singh said.

India, along with host Egypt, is one of the founding members of the NAM, the largest grouping of countries outside the United Nations, aimed at giving a voice to the developing world.

Founded in 1955, NAM's 118 member states represent around 56 percent of the global population. NAM states consider themselves not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc.