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India, Pakistan foreign ministers to hold talks

The informal talks next week will be the first meeting between foreign ministers of the old rivals in more than a year.

india Updated: Nov 25, 2006 00:36 IST

Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Friday he would hold informal talks with his Pakistani counterpart next week, the first meeting between foreign ministers of the old rivals in more than a year.

Monday's talks between Mukherjee and Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri would come almost two weeks after top diplomats of the neighbours held their first talks in nearly a year and finalised a plan to set up a joint panel to tackle terrorism and curb tensions.

Kasuri was due in India over the weekend for a private visit and Mukherjee said a meeting had been fixed for Monday.

"I have invited him for lunch, so I will have some discussions," Mukherjee told reporters on the sidelines of a book launch.

Kasuri and Mukherjee's predecessor, Natwar Singh, held peace talks in Islamabad in Oct. 2005, a month after which Singh resigned after he was named in an investigation report into Iraq's oil-for-food scandal.

The foreign minister's post was vacant until veteran Mukherjee was shifted from the defence ministry last month.

The India-Pakistan peace talks—launched in 2004 after the two countries pulled back from the brink of what would have been their fourth war—have made slow progress, particularly on their central dispute over Kashmir.

New Delhi had suspended the dialogue after the deadly Mumbai train blasts in July, blamed on a Pakistan-based Islamist militant group.

But it agreed to resume them after leaders of the two countries held talks on the sidelines of a Non-Aligned Movement summit in Havana in September.

First Published: Nov 25, 2006 00:36 IST