India, Pakistan Pledge ‘New Chapter’ in Relations

Posted November 10th, 2011 at 5:35 pm (UTC-5)
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The prime ministers of India and Pakistan have promised a “new chapter” in bilateral ties and to work together to combat terrorism and improve trade.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart, Yousuf Raza Gilani, made the comment Thursday on the sidelines of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit in the Maldives.

Mr. Singh said India's destiny is inextricably linked to Pakistan and that the two neighbors are ready to turn away from decades of rivalry.

Mr. Gilani said future talks will be more productive and create a new chapter in the history of India and Pakistan. He said he and Mr. Singh discussed all of the contentious issues during the hour-long meeting, including terrorism, access to shared water, and the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

The meeting Thursday came a day after the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan said relations between the neighboring countries have improved, but there is still work to be done.

India recently supported Pakistan's bid in the United Nations to become a non-permanent member of the Security Council, while Pakistan vowed to confer most favored nation trading status on India. Both sides are also working on implementing business visas to promote commercial travel over their heavily fortified border.

New Delhi suspended peace talks with Islamabad after the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks that killed 166 people. India blames the three-day siege on Pakistan-based militants. The two sides resumed a full peace dialogue in February.

India views the attack as one of many incidents of terrorism backed by Pakistan's intelligence agency and has accused Islamabad of not doing enough to bring those responsible to justice.

The two-day SAARC summit in the Maldives also includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka.