India and Pakistan have agreed to resume high-level peace talks. The dialogue will cover peace and security as well as territorial disputes.
After being sworn in as India's PM in 2014, Narendra Modi met with Pakistan's Nawaz Sharif in New Dehli
According to a joint statement released on Wednesday, India and Pakistan have agreed to resume high-level peace talks.
"Both the countries have agreed to resume the stalled talks," said India's Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, who met with Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz. "We will start the dialogue process from scratch," Swaraj added.
The breakthrough came at the close of a regional conference in Islamabad which was attended by Swaraj. The conference also saw Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Sharif meet in a bid to revive the Taliban peace process.
The dialogue between the two nations will cover peace and security as well as territorial disputes, including that over Kashmir, a Himalayan region that has seen India and Pakistan fight two wars since gaining their independence from Britain in 1947.
Delhi had suspended all talks after Islamist gunmen attacked the Indian city of Mumbai in November 2008, killing 166 people. The attacks were later found to have been planned from Pakistan.
What brought about the new talks was apparently a brief meeting between Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the UN climate change summit in Paris on November 30. This was followed by talks between the two countries' national security advisers in Bangkok.
The countries had agreed to resume the peace process in 2011 but tensions have spiked over the past two years, with cross-border shelling over the disputed border in Kashmir claiming dozens of lives since 2014.
Pakistani opposition lawmaker Sherry Rehman, a foreign policy expert, said the agreement was "important" but expressed disappointment that the dialogue would start from scratch. She noted that the demand likely came from the Indian side.
"The good news is they've agreed to resume what they call 'comprehensive dialogue' and really all the subjects are the same," she said.
Rehman also said it was unlikely the deal had been made without the approval of Pakistan's all-powerful military.
av/bw (AFP, AP)