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Sunday, September 17, 2006

India and Pakistan agree to resume peace talks

HAVANA, Cuba (Reuters) - India and Pakistan will resume formal peace negotiations that were frozen after the July train bombings in Mumbai, their leaders said on Saturday.

"It was agreed that the peace process must be maintained ... we instructed our foreign ministers to resume direct talks," Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, reading out a joint statement.

Singh and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf met on the fringes of a summit of Non-Aligned Movement nations in Havana.

Singh and Musharraf last met a year ago at the United Nations, but restated standing positions and made little progress. With both under political pressure at home, expectations for Saturday's talks were modest, the officials said.

The talks between the nuclear-armed neighbors followed a summer of accusations and canceled meetings since the July 11 train bombings that killed 186 people in Mumbai.

New Delhi had said the carnage in Mumbai was engineered by Pakistan-based group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The India-Pakistan peace process was launched in 2004 after the rivals came to the brink of a fourth war. It has been battered by separatist violence in disputed Kashmir and deadly attacks across India, blamed on Pakistan-based Islamic militants.

Better ties between India and Pakistan would help stabilize South Asia, where growing violence in Afghanistan, renewed warfare in Sri Lanka and tensions in Nepal have added to regional instability, analysts said.
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