India and Pakistan foreign ministers meet

Calls made for a new spirit of co-operation after discussions in New Delhi address a wide range of issues.

    Both the foreign ministers have called for a new spirit of co-operation [AFP]

    India and Pakistan's foreign ministers have held formal peace talks in New Delhi.

    Before the talks on Wednesday, the foreign ministers of the two countries called for a new spirit of co-operation.

    SM Krishna, the Indian foreign minister, said that his country wanted to see a "a stable, smooth and prosperous Pakistan".

    His Pakistani counterpart, Hina Rabbani Khar, said their relationship "should not be held hostage to the past".

    The bilateral meeting between the South Asian neighbours is expected to focus on confidence-building measures, trade and people-to-people exchanges.

    After arriving in the Indian capital on Tuesday, Khar stressed the need for both countries to learn from, but not be burdened by, "the lessons of history".

    They should move forward as "friendly neighbours, who have a stake in each other's future and who understand the responsibility that both the countries have to the region", she said.

    Meeting with separatists

    Khar reportedly met several separatist leaders from Indian-administered Kashmir on Tuesday evening.

    The bilateral talks do not include Kashmiri representatives, though the divided territory's status is a major source of tension between the two rivals.

    India and Pakistan both claim all of Kashmir and have fought two wars over the issue since 1947.

    Wednesday's minister-level meeting comes a day after senior Indian and Pakistani officials held discussions in New Delhi that laid the groundwork for the talks.

    Salman Bashir, Pakistan's foreign secretary, said on Tuesday that he hoped the dialogue will boost ties between the two countries.

    "We have every reason to be satisfied with our joint endeavours for the cause of peace and stability and for good relations between our two countries," he said.

    Nirupama Rao, India's foreign secretary, also said she was looking forward to the talks.

    "We had a very good meeting in Islamabad last month and this has, in a sense, set the trend for our discussions here today," she said.

    On agenda

    Chintamani Mahapatra, a professor of international politics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, said Kashmir would be a central issue in the dialogue.

    "There is a proposal to boost the amount of trade between the Pakistani and Indian side of Kashmir," he told Al Jazeera.

    Peace talks between the two countries broke down over a series of attacks across Mumbai in 2008 by 10 Pakistani men in which 166 people were killed.

    "They are considering increasing the number of days residents from the two sides can engage in trade per week from two to four. They will also discuss smoothening the process of getting permits for trade," Mahapatra said.

    "There is also a proposal to expand the number of facilities in the region, including telephone lines."

    The two countries decided to restart the peace process in February and have since discussed a wide range of issues concerning the two sides, including Kashmir and the continuing threat of terrorism.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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