"To commence the process of composite dialogue India and Pakistan have agreed to meet from February 16 to 18 in Islamabad," Indian foreign ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said on Tuesday.

"Joint secretary level talks on February 16 and 17 will be followed by a one day meeting of foreign secretaries on February 18," he added.

Pakistan's foreign ministry spokesman Masud Khan also in a statement confirmed the upcoming talks, saying the talks will be held next month.

Khan said the talks were "in pursuance of the understanding reached between the leaders of Pakistan and India."

Talks broke down in December 2001 after a deadly attack on the Indian parliament which New Delhi blamed on gunmen backed by Pakistan.

Long conflict

Separated by bitter history and the contentious issue of Kashmir, India and Pakistan have already fought four wars against each other.

But traditional frosty ties have shown marked improvement in recent times with both countries initiating a series of goodwill gestures.

Rail and air links have been restored after a protracted break and the two countries are now set to improving sporting and economic ties as well.