'Kashmir talks' held in Colombo

31 July 2008

London: The Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers have met in Sri Lanka. Correspondents say that while neither gave details of their talks, they are likely to have focused on recent violence in Kashmir. Indian FM Pranab Mukherjee would only say that 'certain recent events' were discussed with his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Mr Qureshi said the prime ministers of the two countries would meet soon to issue a comprehensive statement. He said that those talks would take place on 2 August in Colombo, where delegations from both countries will be represented at a meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). 'Common perception' 'I can assure you our discussion today was a frank, candid, open discussion,' he said. The Pakistani foreign minister said that his talks with Mr Mukherjee had helped 'clear the air' between the two nuclear-armed rivals. 'A lot of steam had been let out of the pressure cooker. The dish we're going to cook is going to be for the betterment of the region,' he said. The Kashmir dispute has long bedevilled bilateral relations For his part, Mr Mukherjee said that the two sides 'shared a common perception about our bilateral relations, about composite [peace] dialogue and certain recent events'. Both countries have recently accused each other of breaching the ceasefire in Kashmir. Firing between the two armies went on for hours along the Line of Control that divides Kashmir after first erupting on Monday - India said one of its soldiers was killed. Military representatives of the two sides met on Tuesday to discuss the clash - one of the most serious since the 2003 truce was agreed. India and Pakistan claim the disputed region in its entirety and have gone to war over it twice since independence. Militants have been fighting Indian rule in Kashmir since 1989 at a cost of more than 60,000 lives.