India, Pakistan discuss nuclear tensions

Confidence-building on nuclear weapons and improving travel and trade in disputed Kashmir top agenda.

    Bilateral talks between India and Pakistan had been stalled since the Mumbai attack in 2008 [EPA] 

    India and Pakistan have agreed to try to ease mutual fears about their nuclear arsenals in what were deemed successful talks between the two countries' top diplomats.

    Concerns over the threat of conflict between the nuclear-armed neighbours and the disputed region of Kashmir topped the agenda as Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir hosted his Indian counterpart, Nirupama Rao, for two days of talks in Islamabad.

    A meeting of experts would be asked to "consider additional measures ... to build trust and confidence and promote peace and security," they said in a joint statement on Friday.

    The officials also announced that they would try to improve trade and travel across the ceasefire line dividing disputed Kashmir.

    "The ideology of military conflict should have no place in the 21st century," Rao told the news conference.  A working group will convene next month to improve trade and travel across the heavily militarised Line of
    Control (LoC), they announced.

    "We welcome the efforts by the two countries to address the problem and also expand the trade across the border,"  Mirwaiz Omar Farooq, chief of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, the moderate grouping of Kashmiri separatists, told Reuters.

    "But they did not speak on the resolution of Kashmir. In the future we hope they would make some headway on the dispute and include the Kashmiri leadership to find a lasting solution," he said.

    Talks between India and Pakistan have been stalled since the November 2008 attack on Mumbai by Pakistan-based militants which killed 166 people.

    But the home secretaries from both sides met in New Delhi in March this year and agreed to set up a terrorism hotline and to cooperate on the Mumbai attack investigation, which seems to have put the negotiations back on track.

    Relations between the countries have often been tense. They have fought three wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over Kashmir.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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