India and Pakistan agree to resume high-level peace talks

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Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj speaks to media with Advisor to Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz at the foreign ministry in Islamabad, Pakistan, 9 December 2015Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
India's Sushma Swaraj announced the talks after meeting her Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz (right)

India and Pakistan have agreed to resume high-level peace talks which stalled in 2012.

The agreement was announced at a regional conference in the Pakistani capital Islamabad.

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said the foreign secretaries of both countries would meet to set an agenda for meetings on "peace and security".

Talks are to include Kashmir, the spark for two of the rivals' wars since independence from Britain in 1947.

The region, claimed by both countries in its entirety, has been a flashpoint for more than 60 years.

"The foreign secretaries of both countries will meet and chart out the agenda for the meetings," Ms Swaraj told reporters after meeting her counterpart, Sartaj Aziz.

Pakistan is said to have assured the Indian side that it is taking steps to expedite the early conclusion of trials of those accused of involvement in the Mumbai attacks of 2009, the BBC's Shahzeb Jillani in Pakistan reports.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Narendra Modi has accepted an invitation from Nawaz Sharif to attend a regional summit in Islamabad next year

M Ilyas Khan, BBC News, Islamabad

Ms Swaraj's visit came in the aftermath of a dramatic rise - and then a rather sudden easing - in tensions between the two nuclear-armed rivals.

Pakistan wants to discuss Kashmir, claimed by both countries in its entirety.

India wants Pakistan to allow greater commercial interaction, liberalise visa regimes, grant transit rights to traders between Delhi and Kabul, and stamp out militant groups which it believes Pakistan has fostered to destabilise Kashmir and Afghanistan.

This is a complex situation, and talks in the past have often broken down, underlining a trust deficit on both sides.

A measure of success will be if they can draw up a road-map for more substantive talks in the near future - and then make progress on the many long-running issues which divide them.