Pakistan welcomed the offer, but said it sought clarification on the contents of the proposed talks before giving a formal answer.

"There are now signals emanating from India that they are willing to talk bilaterally," Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the Pakistani foreign minister, told the Reuters news agency.

"We welcome this ... if it leads to resumption of the composite dialogue."

India halted peace talks between the two countries after co-ordinated attacks at several Mumbai locations in November 2008 left 166 people dead.

India says the attacks were carried out by the Pakistan-based armed group Lashkar-e-Taiba and has demanded Islamabad bring the culprits to justice before talks can resume.

India and Pakistan launched talks in 2004 to resolve several disputes between the two countries, including the dispute over the region of Kashmir.

Pakistan has been pushing for the resumption of the talks but until now, Indian and Pakistani officials have met only on the sidelines of multilateral meetings.