NEW DELHI, (AP) -India and Pakistan agreed on measures to combat terrorism and prevent an accidental nuclear conflict in South Asia at the first peace talks since a terrorist attack on Mumbai’s train network in July, Pakistan’s foreign secretary said Wednesday.
Blaming the attack — which killed more than 200 people — on militants based in Pakistan, and on Islamabad’s intelligence service, India put the talks on hold. The key to resumption was a deal to create what was described as an “anti-terrorism mechanism” that could help the historic rivals work together to halt attacks like those in Mumbai.
Pakistani Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammed Khan told reporters that, at talks that began Tuesday, he and Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shanker Menon had agreed to set up a three-member commission to exchange information on terror threats. A Foreign Ministry official from each side is to work with the group, he said.
Khan also said that the two sides had prepared a deal intended to limit the risk of an inadvertent nuclear conflict. The nuclear safety deal would be signed at a later date, he said, without providing any details of the agreement.
The nuclear-armed neighbors have fought three wars since the bloody partition of the subcontinent after independence from Britain in 1947.
They began the peace process in 2004, and have since taken several fitful steps to improve relations, but the process broke down after the Mumbai bombings.
Khan said that during two days of talks, Indian officials had given him no evidence of Pakistani links to the Mumbai bombings, but “there is something about other blasts.” He did not elaborate.
Other deadly recent attacks that India blamed on militants based in Pakistan include October 2005 bombings in New Delhi, which killed 62 people, and bombings in March in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi that killed 20.
India has been pushing for joint efforts to fight terror in the hopes that involving Pakistani security agencies and providing them with evidence of the involvement of Pakistan-based militant groups would encourage authorities in Islamabad to act against terror cells.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf decided to resume talks after meeting in Havana, Cuba on the sidelines of the Nonaligned Movement Summit in September.
India and Pakistan have a history of hostile relations, and have fought three wars since the partition of the subcontinent on independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over their competing claims to the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir.
More than a dozen militant groups are fighting to make Kashmir independent from Hindu-majority India or to merge it with Muslim-dominated Pakistan. The insurgency has claimed about 65,000 lives.
India accuses Pakistan of funding and training rebels who cross over to the Indian portion of Kashmir and carry out terror strikes. Pakistan denies the charges, saying it only offers the rebels moral and diplomatic support.