The prime ministers of India and Pakistan were scheduled to meet on the sidelines of a summit in Egypt yesterday, sparking hopes of a resumption of peace talks between the nuclear rivals.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were to hold talks in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where more than 50 heads of state are attending the developing world’s most important get-together, the Non-Aligned Movement summit.
Relations between India and Pakistan, which have fought three wars, deteriorated sharply after last year’s bombings in Mumbai, which killed 166 people and were blamed by New Delhi on the banned Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Singh has voiced hope that Pakistan will promise action against those behind the November attacks when he meets Gilani for the second high-level talks between the two sides since the bombings.
Pakistan on Wednesday expressed optimism over the talks.
“There has recently been some forward movement in our relations with India,” Gilani told summit participants. “We hope to sustain this momentum and move toward comprehensive engagement. We believe durable peace in South Asia is achievable.”
The Mumbai siege left in tatters a fragile peace process launched in 2004 to resolve all outstanding issues of conflict between the neighbors, including a territorial dispute over the divided Himalayan territory of Kashmir.
Peace “will be facilitated by the resolution of all outstanding disputes, including Jammu and Kashmir,” Gilani said.
Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon has been holding talks with his Pakistani counterpart Salim Bashir since Tuesday in preparation for the meeting between the prime ministers.
Menon told a press conference on Wednesday that the talks were continuing.
“We have had good detailed discussions. We are still in the process of talking to each other,” Menon said.
Singh has voiced hope that Pakistan will promise action against those behind the attacks when he meets Gilani for only the second high-level contact between the two sides since the Mumbai bombings.
Pakistan has said that it would “probably” put the five accused of involvement in the attacks on trial this week.
More than 50 heads of state from the developing world are gathered in Sharm el-Sheikh to tackle the fallout from the global economic meltdown, with calls for a “new world order” to prevent a repeat of the crisis.