The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

India, Pakistan foreign secretaries meet in Bhutan

(AFP) –
NEW DELHI — The top diplomats of India and Pakistan held talks on Sunday in Thimphu, the Bhutanese capital, in the first high-level meeting between the two rival countries since July.

Indian foreign secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistan counterpart Salman Bashir met on the sidelines of a South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) conference, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

India suspended a peace dialogue with Pakistan after the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, which claimed 166 lives, but the two countries last year began to explore a resumption of structured talks.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi held a meeting with his Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna in Islamabad in July.

"Dialogue between India and Pakistan is necessary and a must if we are to satisfactorily resolve the outstanding issues between our two countries," Rao was quoted as saying by the PTI news agency before Sunday's meeting.

"We have a number of outstanding issues. So we are going into this with an open mind and constructive attitude."

PTI quoted Bashir as saying that the talks on Sunday would focus on making progress towards another meeting between the countries' foreign ministers.

"My expectations are that we should be working towards continued engagement," he said.

India accuses Pakistan of failing to crack down sufficiently on militant groups on its territory, including those which New Delhi blames for the Mumbai attacks.

Relations between the two countries, which have fought three wars since the subcontinent was partitioned in 1947, have been plagued by border and resource disputes, and accusations of Pakistani militant activity against India.

Two of the three wars were over the disputed Kashmir region, and Kashmiri militants have been fighting New Delhi's rule for two decades in an insurgency that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

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