Talks with India to resume on Feb 25, claims Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and India will hold their first official talks since the Mumbai attacks on February 25, Islamabad said today, in a move seen as a significant bid to ease regional tensions.

“It was decided that foreign

secretary level talks between the two countries would be held on February 25 in New Delhi,” a Pakistani government statement said.

There was not yet any confirmation of the talks from New Delhi. The Pakistani statement said its side “should raise all the core issues and impress upon India the need for the expeditious resolution through resumption of Composite Dialogue” — a reference to Pakistan’s desire for fully fledged peace talks.

New Delhi last week proposed talks between the countries’ top foreign ministry civil servants, a move welcomed as indicative of a major breakthrough in relations frozen since the 2008 attacks in Mumbai. Pakistan announced the date for the talks following discussions between its Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. “The prime minister directed the foreign secretary, who was also present in the meeting, that his talks with his Indian counterpart should be result oriented and meaningful,” the prime minister’s office said.

India’s overture was interpreted

as a result of pressure from the

United States, which is keen to

keep South Asia trouble-free while deploying tens of thousands more troops into battle against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Ending the war in Afghanistan is considered impossible without help from Pakistan, which the West still accuses of supporting the Taliban and other Al-Qaeda-linked militants.

Pakistan announced the date of the talks after US national security adviser James Jones was in Islamabad for meetings with senior officials.