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Indian, Pakistani premiers to meet in bid to defuse tensions

RIA Novosti

22:1715/07/2009 MOSCOW, July 15 (RIA Novosti) - Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is to meet with his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday for talks aimed at calming tensions between the two nuclear states.

The meeting will take place on the sidelines of a Non-Aligned Movement summit of leaders of developing countries in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Relations between the two nuclear powers countries deteriorated after last November's attacks on the Indian city of Mumbai. India has blamed the Pakistani-based Lashkar-e-Taiba movement for the assault by heavily-armed terrorists, and has said it wants to see a "visible response" from Islamabad.

"Both India and Pakistan are really keen to begin talks, to begin the peace process," International Institute for Strategic Studies South Asia analyst Rahul Roy-Chaudhury told RIA Novosti.

"But from the Indian side there are constraints, the most important of these is what India calls the requirement for visible action by the Pakistani government against the Lashkar-e-Taiba, or the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the organization that India holds responsible for the attack on Mumbai," Roy-Chaudhury went on.

Jamaat-ud-Dawa, registered as a charity in Pakistan, is widely believed to be a front for the militant Lashkar-e-Taiba group.

However, while the analyst called the Pakistani army's recent campaign in the Taliban's Swat Valley stronghold "very encouraging," he also said that there was "not the same political will" in Islamabad to take the same steps in the east of the country due to widespread support for Jamaat-ud-Dawa.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to New Delhi later this month may also be a factor in pushing India and Pakistan to make progress.

"There will be interest from the U.S. that both India and Pakistan should talk," Roy-Chaudhury said.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since 1947. A 2001-2002 military standoff saw both countries amass troops in the Kashmir region.


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