Mumbai attack hotel on fire 311 AP.
(photo credit: AP)
NEW DELHI — India and Pakistan announced Thursday they would resume wide-ranging peace talks that were frozen after the 2008 terrorist attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai, which were blamed on Pakistan-based militants.
RELATED:Family of Mumbai terror victims sues PakistanIndia’s seat on Security Council and the Iranian dilemma
The US has been pressing the nuclear-armed rivals to restart their peace efforts in hopes that reducing tensions along their border would free Pakistan to focus on its fight against Taliban militants — a key element of US strategy in Afghanistan.
The decision followed talks Sunday between the foreign secretaries of the two countries in Bhutan, the latest in a yearlong string of meetings of top officials intended to rebuild the nations' shattered trust.
A statement released simultaneously in New Delhi and Islamabad said the
new talks would focus on counter-terrorism, humanitarian issues, peace
and security, the disputed Kashmir region and other border issues.
The foreign minister of Pakistan will visit India by July to review the progress of the talks.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani welcomed the talks and
praised his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, for the "opening of a
new chapter in the relations between the two countries, which Pakistan
India and Pakistan have fought three wars — two of them over Kashmir —
since they won independence from Britain in 1947. Kashmir is divided
between the two countries, which both claim the Himalayan territory in
India broke off reportedly fruitful peace efforts after 10 militants
from Pakistan laid siege to the financial capital of Mumbai in November
2008, killing 166 people.
India has accused Pakistani intelligence of being intricately involved
in the planning of that attack, and insisted it would not return to the
negotiating table until Pakistan cracks down on Lashkar-e-Taiba, the
militant group blamed for carrying it out.
It was not immediately clear why India changed its mind.
Pakistani officials have bristled at criticism they are not doing
enough, noting that seven suspects in the Mumbai attacks have been put
on trial. Islamabad says it needs more evidence from Indian
investigators to make additional indictments.
India has criticized Pakistan's handling of the prosecution. The trial
has been slowed by several procedural delays and the judge has been
changed three times.
For its part, Pakistan has called on New Delhi to take action against
those responsible for the Feb. 18, 2007, bombing of a train on the
Pakistan-India route set up during an earlier thaw in relations that
killed 68 passengers.
Last month, a Hindu nationalist confessed to an Indian court that Hindu hard-liners were involved in that attack.