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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 June, 2004, 07:03 GMT 08:03 UK
India-Pakistan talks set for June
Foreign secretaries Shashank (L) and Riaz Khokhar in Islamabad
Landmark talks were held in February
India and Pakistan have decided to hold peace talks later this month.

Senior diplomats from the two countries will hold talks in Delhi on 27 and 28 June, India's Foreign Minister Natwar Singh told a news conference.

The talks would discuss the main dispute of Kashmir and nuclear security, Mr Singh added.

Islamabad had accepted the dates proposed by India, a senior Pakistani foreign ministry official told the Associated Press news agency.

The announcement came a day after Delhi and Islamabad signalled sharp differences over how to tackle the Kashmir dispute - but said they remained committed to the peace process.

Peace pledges

India's new Congress-led government has said it will carry forward the peace process with Pakistan.

The future of India-Pakistan relations no longer lies in the past
Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh
The United States has welcomed the upcoming talks.

"We certainly have welcomed the new government, and we are glad to see that it is, as it said it would, continuing that policy of peaceful dialogue," US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

The arch-rivals have fought three wars, including two over Kashmir.

But ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours have thawed after last year's peace initiatives between Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and former Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

A number of confidence-building measures have been introduced over the past year, including a resumption of rail, air and bus links and a strengthening of diplomatic ties.

The Indian cricket team also toured Pakistan earlier this year, despite security concerns.

Delay

Talks on confidence-building measures were originally set for last week, but India asked for them to be postponed while the new government allocated cabinet posts.

Indian troops in Kashmir
Kashmir - early test for India's new government
Foreign Minister Singh said experts from both countries would meet on 19 and 20 June to discuss nuclear confidence-building measures. Foreign secretaries would meet on 27 and 28 June.

"We cannot forget the past, but neither should we be prisoners of the past," he told the news conference. "The relationship should be based on trust and not mistrust.

"I want to assure our friends in Pakistan... that we are committed to a deep involvement on every possible issue with them. We will discuss every possible issue with them."

Mr Singh said India had supported Pakistan's recent re-admission to the Commonwealth.

He added that India's new national security adviser, JN Dixit, would attend talks with China on settling a boundary dispute, over which the two countries fought briefly in 1962.


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