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Pakistani, Indian PMs Agree To Reduce Kashmir Violence


An Indian Army soldier stands guard close to the Line of Control, a cease-fire line dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
An Indian Army soldier stands guard close to the Line of Control, a cease-fire line dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
The prime ministers of India and Pakistan have agreed to reduce violence along the Line of Control that divides the disputed region of Kashmir.

Indian officials say Pakistan's Nawaz Sharif and India's Manmohan Singh made the pledge to each other on September 29 in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting.

India's national security adviser, Shivshankar Menon, said Sharif also promised "there would be action" on punishing extremists linked to the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, which killed 164 people.

At a briefing after the talks, Menon told reporters that both leaders agreed "the preconditions for forward movement in the relations which they both desire is an improvement of the situation on the Line of Control where there have been repeated cease-fire violations."

"But in order to get there, I think today we are at the stage where we need to address the issues that we face, today. We have incidents on the line, we have cease fire violations, we need to deal with those. We have terrorism related issues also, we need to address those and then we hope to move it forward but I am not an astrologer, I cannot tell you the future, whether it will happen in a year, two years, or quicker," Menon explained.

He said the meeting was "useful because it provided an opportunity for high-level contact on issues that are troubling the relationship."

Menon said what mattered now is "how both sides take it forward in the next few months."

Rare Meeting

Pakistan's secretary for foreign affairs, Jalil Abbas Jilani, told reporters that the New York meeting set the stage for future cooperation even though they did not reach specific agreements.

"The most significant aspect of the meeting was the leaders expressed their commitment to have better relations between the two countries. During the meeting the leaders also discussed all issues and factors which have contributed to the present state of relations between our two countries," Jilani told reporters.

The summit was the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders since Sharif's election victory in Pakistan in May.

Singh, who is due to step down from power next year, had dampened expectations before the talks, saying after meeting President Barack Obama in Washington on September 28 that "the epicenter of terror still remains focused in Pakistan."

On September 29, Singh told UN delegates that India was eager to resolve all issues with Pakistan. But he also repeated his concerns about terrorist attacks. He also said New Delhi viewed Kashmir as "an integral part of India."

Sharif said his meeting with Singh -- which took place amid an upsurge in militant attacks in Kashmir -- was a chance for a "new beginning."

Tensions between India and Pakistan date back to the formation of Pakistan in 1947 when Britain granted independence to and carved up the subcontinent.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since then, including two over Kashmir.

Relations also have been strained since the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks in India's commercial hub.

India has blamed that attack on Pakistan, saying the militants came from Pakistan and their controllers were in Pakistan.

Analysts say the scheduled withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 could lead to more trouble between India and Pakistan because each country is pursuing competing interests there.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
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