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India, Pakistan Begin Talks on Kashmir Issue

India and Pakistan Sunday resumed their composite dialogue at the foreign secretary level after a gap of nearly six years, with New Delhi expected to announce several confidence-building measures to boost the peace process. 

The Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) Sunday reported that the two-day talks between India's Foreign Secretary Shashank and his Pakistani counterpart Riaz Khokhar are a follow-up to an agreement at their meeting in Islamabad in February to resume a composite dialogue process to resolve all outstanding bilateral issues, including Kashmir.


New Delhi would seek to take the process forward without compromising on national interest, IANS said.


Sunday's talks will deal with peace and security issues and confidence-building measures, while the talks Monday will focus on Kashmir.


The foreign secretaries are holding talks for the first time since the new government of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took office last month.


The composite dialogue process resumed after a gap of six years, during which bilateral relations touched their nadir and the two countries were pushed to the brink of a fourth war.


Pakistan and India last held foreign secretary-level talks in October 1998 in Islamabad.


On June 20, the two sides announced a virtual cap on further nuclear tests and announced a set of measures, including a hotline between the foreign secretaries, to prevent accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons.


The two countries' foreign ministers held talks on the sidelines of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue in the Chinese city of Qingdao last week and decided to provide "continuous political guidance" to the dialogue process. 


(Xinhua News Agency June 28, 2004)

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