"Handshake across the Himalayas"
India and China will study new ways to ease tensions along their ill-defined border, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Monday in his first foreign trip since taking office, which comes just weeks after a military stand-off between the Asian giants in the Himalayas. Full Article | Slideshow
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Pakistan, India to hold talks on Feb. 25
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - The top diplomats of nuclear-armed rivals Pakistan and India will meet for talks in New Delhi on Feb. 25, the Pakistani prime minister's office said on Friday.
India suspended a four-year-old peace process with Pakistan after an attack on the Indian city of Mumbai by Pakistan-based Islamist militants in 2008.
India had been demanding action against the militants it says were behind the assault before the peace process could resume, but this month offered to hold high-level talks despite little progress in Pakistan's prosecution of seven suspects.
Analysts said while no breakthrough on core disputes was likely in the short-term, the renewed engagement between the two sides after more than a year was a good sign.
Investment into India has continued apace despite the tensions between the two countries since Mumbai, and so signs of a detente are unlikely to boost markets. But a slide into conflict would deal a body blow to both economies.
Indian officials say they offered Pakistan open-ended talks on all issues affecting peace and security, emphasising counter-terrorism.
But Pakistan has been pushing for the resumption of the full peace process, which centred on a so-called composite dialogue, covering all problems, including their decades old dispute over the divided Kashmir region.
The two countries' top foreign ministry officials, their foreign secretaries, would meet in New Delhi on Feb. 25, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's office said in a statement.
"(The) Pakistan side should raise all the core issues and impress upon India the need for the expeditious resolution through resumption of composite dialogue," it said.
"The prime minister directed the foreign secretary ... that his talks with his Indian counterpart should be result-oriented and meaningful," it said.
The United States has also been urging the two countries to resume engagement to help stabilise the region, especially Afghanistan, where the neighbours have been competing for influence.
India's foreign ministry offered no formal comment on the talks, but officials said they would be looking at measures Pakistan has taken to tackle anti-India militants on its soil.
The neighbours have fought three wars since securing independence in 1947, two of them over Muslim-majority Kashmir, which both claim in full but rule in part.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and sending militants into India's part of Kashmir. Pakistan denies that, saying it only gives political support to what it calls a freedom movement.
"There's no guarantee that they will be solving problems but it is a hopeful sign in itself," said Pakistani politics professor Rasul Bakhsh Rais.
While the two sides had different priorities in terms of the problems they wanted to discuss, he said, neither would have exclusive control over the agenda.
"Once the ball starts rolling, then you are in the field and you are playing," he said. "And once you start playing, then other issues will also come up."
An Indian analyst saw the rhetoric over the agenda as the domestic compulsion of two governments otherwise keen to engage.
"We don't need to jump to conclusions about what this offensive (Pakistani) stand on composite dialogue means," Lalit Mansingh, a former Indian foreign secretary told Reuters.
"This sabre-rattling could be just a show to feed Pakistan's domestic constituency."
(Writing by Robert Birsel; Additional reporting by Krittivas Mukherjee in NEW DELHI; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)
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