At a joint news conference in New Delhi on Monday, Indian Foreign Minister K Natwar Singh and Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri tried to put a positive gloss on their two days of meetings but could not resist a dig at each other.

   

The two men had no significant agreements to announce, revealed clear differences in approach, and reverted to the mutual recriminations of the past over the disputed Kashmir region.

   

"Even modest progress is worthy of respect," Singh said. " We have made progress in the past two days. My friend Foreign Minister Kasuri and I have established rapport and mutual trust."

 

The two foreign secretaries  will
issue statement on Wednesday

Promise

   

India says Pakistan has reneged on a promise made in January to prevent fighters crossing from Pakistan into Indian-administered Kashmir, and to close down their training camps on Pakistani soil.    

 

"Cross-border terrorism remains a serious concern, and I have reiterated that concern to Mr Kasuri," he said.

   

For its part, Pakistan fears that India, which controls the heart of Kashmir, is dragging its feet and is unwilling to engage in a serious dialogue about the region.

   

Kasuri said he had reiterated Pakistan's allegations about human-rights abuses by the Indian army in Kashmir and stressed the dispute over the Himalayan region could not be sidelined.

 

Perpetual tension

 

"Even modest progress is worthy of respect"

Indian Foreign Minister K Natwar Singh

"Regardless of the words we use and the gloss we put, we are all aware of what has been the cause of perpetual tension between our two countries and what has caused three wars between us and a near war in 2002. And that was the issue of Jammu and Kashmir," Kasuri said. 

   

"We are not imposing pre-conditions. But it's a matter of common sense, it's a matter of historical experience, that if we wish to put our relations on an even keel, we'll have to tackle the issue of Jammu and Kashmir."

   

A ceasefire has held along the frontline in Kashmir for almost a year, but there has been no apparent progress in resolving deeper differences.

   

The two foreign ministries will issue a detailed joint statement on their talks on Wednesday.

 

India claims all of Kashmir, while Pakistan seeks implementation of UN resolutions on a plebiscite to decide whether the Muslim-majority territory should be merged with India or Pakistan.