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SNAP ANALYSIS - Indian, Pakistani leaders meet
LONDON (Reuters) - A meeting between the leaders of India and Pakistan, their first since last year's attacks on Mumbai, could offer a start in allowing both countries to repair relations, but the process is likely to be long and hard.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told President Asif Ali Zardari that Pakistan had to do more to ensure militants could not operate from Pakistani territory.
"I am happy to meet you, but my mandate is to tell you that the territory of Pakistan must not be used for terrorism," Singh told Zardari on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Yekaterinburg in the Russian Urals.
The tough words suggested that, as expected, there would be no early resumption of a formal peace process broken off by India after the Mumbai attacks it blamed on the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Nor would there be a major breakthrough in relations that would allow the Pakistan Army to redeploy significant numbers of troops from its eastern border with India to fight Taliban militants on its western border with Afghanistan.
But the face-to-face meeting could nonetheless help ease tensions in the region and give both countries an opportunity to start to rebuild relations shattered by the Mumbai attacks.
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said senior officials from both countries would exchange information on terrorism, while an Indian official said Zardari and Singh would meet again at a summit meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt in July.
Islamabad wants to reopen formal peace talks, including on disputed Kashmir, which has been divided between India and Pakistan since independence and has been the cause of two of their three full-scale wars.
But Indian analysts have said there can be no going back to business as usual on the peace process until Pakistan takes tougher action against militant groups India blames for attacks in Indian Kashmir and on Indian targets elsewhere.
India was incensed when a Pakistani court this month ordered the release from house arrest of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Instead they have said the two countries should talk about cooperating on cracking down on militant groups.
This would allow New Delhi to engage with Islamabad and show its respect for the country's civilian government, while insisting that it take further action against militant groups it says were once nurtured by Pakistan for use against India.
At least some of these groups have now turned on Pakistan, launching a string of attacks across the country, including in its heartland Punjab province.
The focus on curbing militants is likely to leave on hold for now both formal and informal peace talks which according to some analysts led to a near-breakthrough on Kashmir in 2007.
The two countries failed to capitalise on the breakthrough after then president Pervez Musharraf became embroiled in a political battle which eventually forced him to quit last year.
And given the time it will take to repair relations, it leaves little room for the Pakistan Army to move significant numbers of troops from its border with India to attack the Taliban -- as Washington would like.
Pakistan, after defeating the Taliban in the Swat valley, is preparing to take its offensive to the Waziristan tribal areas.
The Pakistan Army has already sent a fresh division into the tribal areas, replacing a division that was pulled out and brought back towards the Indian border after the Mumbai attacks, analysts say. On top of that it has redeployed an additional 5,000 to 6,000 troops from east to west.
But it is expected to be wary of pulling back significantly greater numbers of troops from the Indian border as long as India maintains its own military presence there, fearing sudden retaliation were there to be a new militant attack on India.
Nor can its troops, trained for conventional warfare against India, be easily adapted to fight Taliban insurgents in the mountains to the west without training in counter-insurgency.
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