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India, Pakistan in first substantive talks since Mumbai

India and Pakistan next week take the first step in trying to revive a peace process broken off after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, but no one is realistically expecting dramatic progress.

india Updated: Jul 09, 2010 16:30 IST

India and Pakistan next week take the first step in trying to revive a peace process broken off after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, but no one is realistically expecting dramatic progress.

The meeting comes at a time when India has sent in the army to control weeks of violent anti-government protests in Kashmir, at the core of its dispute with Pakistan.

The July 15 talks between the foreign ministers could see them framing a new format to replace a broad 2004 peace process, known as the composite dialogue, which India suspended after the Mumbai attacks which it blamed on Pakistan-based militants.

That new format could free up the peace process from a political bind: India could not be seen as reviving the old peace process until Pakistan punished the planners of the Mumbai attack which killed 166 people, a demand Islamabad has yet to meet.

At the same time, both sides have been under pressure from Washington to reduce tension because their rivalry spills over into Afghanistan and complicates efforts to bring peace there.

Before the 2004 talks stalled, they came close to agreement under the composite dialogue on a maritime border dispute in the area of Sir Creek estuary and on the Siachen glacier in the Himalayas.

"I think the old composite dialogue which had eight issues is dead," said Lalit Mansingh, a former Indian foreign secretary.

"They will probably come up with a new format that will include new issues such as water sharing (from common rivers) that Pakistan will want to raise."