Meridian Star

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September 30, 2013

India, Pakistan PMs seek end to Kashmir tension

(Continued)

NEW YORK —

The top bureaucrat at Pakistan's Foreign Ministry, Jalil Abbas Jilani, sounded more upbeat.

"It was an extremely positive meeting," Jilani told a separate news conference. "The most significant impact was that the leaders expressed their commitment to have better relations between the two countries."

Asked if Pakistan shared India's view that an end to violence on the Line of Control was necessary for the peace process to advance, Jilani said Pakistan agreed that a "conducive atmosphere" was better for dialogue that produces results. But he said Sharif emphasized that "we should continue to talk."

In comments Friday at the General Assembly, Sharif called it a chance for a "new beginning" in relations. Singh had downplayed expectations. Their talks came three days after twin attacks by suspected separatist rebels on Indian security forces killed 13 people in the Indian-held portion of Kashmir.

Singh raised the issue of terrorism emanating from Pakistan and reiterated the need for effective action against the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks, Menon said.

Pakistan has put seven men on trial on charges they assisted in the Mumbai siege, but the trial has made little progress. Jilani said that now that a Pakistani judicial commission has visited India to interview witnesses, he was sure "this trial process would be speeded up."

Leaders of India and Pakistan last met a year ago. Pakistan's then-President Asif Ali Zardari met Singh during a visit to India in April 2012. He was the first Pakistani head of state to visit the country in seven years. The two also met in August 2012 on the sidelines of a summit in Iran.

That progress has been set back by the upsurge in violence in Kashmir, but the need for peace is intensifying. The impending U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, where India and Pakistan have competing interests, adds new uncertainty to a region increasingly threatened by Islamic militancy.

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