Rivals India, Pakistan agree to "keep in touch"

Thu Feb 25, 2010 3:33pm GMT

By Bappa Majumdar

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The first official talks between India and Pakistan since the 2008 Mumbai attacks ended on Thursday with only an agreement to "keep in touch," signalling that relations between the nuclear-armed rivals remain frosty.

The meeting also marks a tiny step in improving the outlook for stability in Afghanistan, where India and Pakistan have long battled for influence, complicating regional security, but many obstacles remain.

The two nations' top diplomats met in a former princely palace in a heavily guarded New Delhi neighbourhood and agreed to "remain in touch" to build trust with each other.

"We went into today's talks with an open mind but fully conscious of the limitations imposed by the large trust deficit between the two countries," Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said after talks with her Pakistani counterpart, Salman Bashir.

"In line with our graduated and step by step approach, our aims were modest."

Neither diplomat said if there would be a next round of talks, though the prime ministers of the two countries have an opportunity to meet at a regional summit in Bhutan in April.

Rao, wearing a black and red sari, and Bashir, in a dark suit, shook hands in front of the cameras before walking into a sprawling room for discussions.

The two countries did not appear to agree on which subjects should be covered in the talks; India wanted to focus on terrorism while Pakistan eyed the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir that has been the cause of two of their three wars.   Continued...

<p>An Indian Border Security Force (BSF) soldier opens a gate at the border with Pakistan near Jammu, February 24, 2010. REUTERS/Mukesh Gupta</p>
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