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September 30, 2013

India, Pakistan PMs seek end to Kashmir tension

NEW YORK —

NEW YORK (AP) — The prime ministers of India and Pakistan met in New York Sunday, and in a step toward easing tension, agreed on the need to stop the recent spate of attacks in the disputed Kashmir region.

They also both accepted invitations to visit each other's countries, although they didn't set dates. But the nuclear rivals appeared at odds over whether an end to the Kashmir violence is necessary for stalled peace talks to restart, and India reiterated its demand that terrorist activity emanating from Pakistan must stop.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan's Nawaz Sharif met for just over one hour at a hotel on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. It was their first face-to-face meeting since Sharif was elected in May seeking to improve ties with Pakistan's larger neighbor.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars, and relations have been strained since the 2008 Mumbai attacks blamed on Pakistan-based militants that killed 164 people in India's commercial hub. This year, a renewed spate of violence has threatened a decade-long cease-fire on the Kashmir frontier.

Indian National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon called Sunday's meeting useful and constructive. He said that Singh and Sharif had tasked senior military officers to find a way to shore up the cease-fire along the so-called Line of Control.

"They were both agreed that the pre-conditions for forward movement in the relationship which they both desire is an improvement of the situation on the Line of Control where there have been repeated cease-fire violations," Menon told reporters at a briefing.

"Our overall impression of the meeting was that it was useful because it provided an opportunity for high-level contact on issues that are troubling the relationship," he said. "We will now see how both sides take it forward in the next few months."

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