India, Pakistan soldiers to talk on Kashmir violence

NEW DELHI/JAMMU, India Sun Jan 13, 2013 5:12pm IST

1 of 4. A general view of Sony village is pictured near the Line of Control (LoC), about 129 km (80 miles) northwest of Srinagar, January 12, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Danish Ismail

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NEW DELHI/JAMMU, India (Reuters) - Military officials from India and Pakistan will hold talks on Monday at the Line of Control, which divides disputed Kashmir, in a bid to defuse tensions after a series of deadly attacks in the region, Indian army officials said.

Four soldiers were killed last week in the worst outbreak of violence in Kashmir since the nuclear-armed neighbours agreed a ceasefire nearly a decade ago.

"Yes the two sides will be meeting on Monday. This is a local commander meet," Colonel Rajesh Kalia, a spokesman for Indian Army's Northern Command, told Reuters by phone.

Another Indian Army spokesman, Colonel Jagdeep Dahiya, said in New Delhi that the meeting would take place in Mendhar, the scene of one of the deadly attacks, at 1 p.m. (0730 GMT).

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since their independence in 1947, two of them over the Himalayan region of Kashmir.

India considers the entire region of snow-capped mountains and fertile valleys an integral part of its territory. Muslim Pakistan contests that and demands implementation of a 1948 U.N. Security Council resolution for a plebiscite to determine the wishes of the mostly Muslim people of Kashmir.

India-Pakistan ties had shown signs of improving in the past year after souring again in 2008 when gunmen killed 166 people in Mumbai in a three-day rampage. India blames a Pakistan militant group for the massacre.

Firing and small skirmishes are common along the 740-km (460-mile) LoC despite a ceasefire that was agreed in 2003. The Indian army says eight of its soldiers were killed in 2012, in 75 incidents of ceasefire violations.

Last Sunday, a Pakistani soldier was killed in what Islamabad said was a cross-border raid mounted by the Indians. The Indian army denied any of its troops breached the control line, but said there had been an exchange of fire.

Two days later, further south along the LoC in the Mendhar district, two Indian soldiers were killed in a thick forest after what Indian officials said was a deep incursion into their territory by Pakistani forces. The head of one of the bodies had been "badly severed", according to Indian officials.

On Thursday, hostilities erupted again in another part of the ceasefire line, and this time Pakistan said one of its soldiers was killed. (Reporting Arup Roychoudhury and Ashok Pahalwan; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

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