Announcing this during an official visit to Turkey, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said officials were still working out at what level the talks would be held.

"We are in contact with each other to work on the level of the first dialogue that we ought to have, which will be in February," Musharraf said.

The talks follow a breakthrough meeting earlier this month between Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Their meeting – the first in two years - came amid a thaw in an otherwise frosty relationship between the two neighbours.

Bitter history

India and Pakistan have historically remained divided over the thorny issue of Kashmir and have fought three wars over it.

India accuses Pakistan of abetting insurgency in troubled Kashmir. Pakistan denies the charge, saying it only extends moral support to the on going freedom struggle in the Himalayan region.

With about a dozen armed groups seeking Kashmir's independence from Indian rule, the region has remained a festering crisis for decades.

But in an attempt to bridge the divide, both India and Pakistan have taken several goodwill measures in recent months, including restoration of transport links.