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Pakistan, India Postpone Talks After Air Base Attack

India and Pakistan postponed talks scheduled for January 15 after a fatal attack on an Indian air base waged by a banned extremist group based in Pakistan.

Islamabad announced the arrest of several Jaish-e-Mohammed militants on January 13 in an apparent effort to mollify New Delhi, but nevertheless said that the talks between the two nations' foreign secretaries would be rescheduled.

Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said the talks would be rescheduled in the "very near future," but neither side specified a date.

There had been fears that the January 2 assault on the Pathankot air base, in which seven Indian soldiers were killed, would derail the talks.

The attack came just days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the first Indian leader to visit Pakistan in 11 years, raising hopes of an improvement in relations between the nuclear-armed rivals.

Swarup at a news briefing said the two foreign secretaries had spoken by phone on January 14 and would meet again soon.

The foreign secretaries may have felt it would be better to have wide-ranging talks "slightly away" from the shadow of the Pathankot attack and its aftermath, he said.

He quoted a Hindi expression -- "When the husband and wife are willing, who is the priest to interfere" -- indicating the talks would go ahead.

Swarup welcomed Pakistan's arrests in raids across the country and said India would work with a team of investigators Pakistan is sending to Pathankot, near the border between the two countries.

"Pakistan is on the right path...We hope Pakistan will take the right steps," Swarup said.

India had provided Pakistan with "actionable evidence" and was waiting for Pakistan's response, he said.

Jaish-e-Mohammed has been fighting Indian rule in Kashmir for decades.

Pakistan banned the group in 2002, the year after it was blamed for an attack on the Indian parliament that took the two neighbors to the brink of war.

It arrested the group's leader in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, but he was later released.

The fight over Kashmir has been a principle cause of troubled relations between the two regional powers, having provoked two wars between them.

With reporting by AFP and dpa

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