Pakistan and India have wasted "massive resources" on a nuclear arms race, Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Friday, ahead of a landmark meeting with his Indian counterpart.
Despite clashes in disputed Kashmir this week, Sharif and India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are expected to hold a break-the-ice meeting Saturday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
It will be the first talks between leaders of the two nations for three years and Sharif said he was looking forward to the chance to launch "a new beginning."
"Our two countries have wasted massive resources in an arms race," Sharif said in his speech to the assembly. Both sides have spent huge amounts on developing a nuclear bomb over the past three decades.
"We could have used those resources for the economic well-being of our people," he added.
"We still have that opportunity. Pakistan and India can prosper together; and the entire region would benefit from our cooperation."
Sharif said: "We stand ready to re-engage with India in a substantive and purposeful dialogue."
The Pakistan premier, elected this year, said he was looking forward to the chance "to make a new beginning" and added "we have a solid basis to do that."
Sharif said Pakistan and India must build on a 1999 accord which called for the resolution of all differences through negotiations.
"I am committed to working for a peaceful and economically prosperous region. This is what our people want and this is what I have long aspired for," Sharif said.
On top of being nuclear rivals, the two countries have disputed the Himalayan region of Kashmir since 1947.
New clashes erupted again this week in the region, split between the two, in a gradual build-up since an ambush in August in which five Indian soldiers were killed on the unofficial border.
India blamed the Pakistan army for the attack, a charge that Islamabad denied.
Militants stormed a police station and an army base in Indian Kashmir on Thursday, killing 10 people.
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