Indian and Pakistani officials were wrapping up their latest round of peace talks yesterday, which have focused on terrorism and Kashmir -- the two key issues that have fueled decades of hostility between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.
Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shanker Menon and his Pakistani counterpart, Riaz Mohammed Khan, reviewed the gamut of India-Pakistan relations on Tuesday, including a slew of confidence building steps that the two rivals have taken since they began their dialogue nearly three years ago, an Indian official said.
"The talks reviewed the composite dialogue process, Kashmir and examined ways to implement a proposed anti-terror mechanism that the two countries have agreed to set up," said Navtej Sarna, spokesman of India's External Affairs Ministry, following the first day of talks.
Tuesday's interaction marked the resumption of peace talks that India suspended after bombs tore through Mumbai's commuter rail network in July, killing more than 200 people. New Delhi blamed the deadly attack on Pakistan's intelligence service and a militant group based in Pakistan -- allegations Islamabad denies.
Two months later, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf decided to resume negotiations when they met in Cuba on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in September.
The key to the resumption of the process was a deal by the leaders to create what they described as an anti-terrorism mechanism that would help them work together to stop terrorists.
India has been pushing for joint efforts to fight terror in the hopes that involving Pakistani security agencies and providing them with evidence of the involvement of Pakistan-based militant groups would encourage the authorities in Islamabad to act against terrorist cells.
Pranab Mukherjee, India's external affairs minister -- who met Khan and other Pakistani officials later on Tuesday -- emphasized the importance of India and Pakistan joining hands in the fight against terrorism, Sarna said.
India and Pakistan have a history of hostile relations and have fought three wars since their partition upon independence from Britain in 1947.
India accuses Pakistan of funding and training the separatist rebels who cross over to the Indian portion of Kashmir and carry out terror strikes. Pakistan denies the charges, saying that it only offers the moral and diplomatic support to the rebels.
Although no major breakthrough is expected at the end of the talks, Indian officials were optimistic the peace dialogue was a positive step.