India-Pakistan talks amid warming ties

ADDU, November 9, 2011 (AFP) – The prime ministers of India and Pakistan meet Thursday at a summit of South Asian leaders, with signs of warming relations between their countries providing a boost for the region. India’s Manmohan Singh and Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani are due to hold talks at an upmarket resort on an islet in the south of the Maldives once used as a staging post by the British navy.

Their foreign ministers raised expectations by agreeing Wednesday that the “trust deficit” between the two nuclear-armed countries had narrowed and that the environment had “improved considerably.”

Both ministers acknowledged the difficult work to do, not least tackling the vexed subject of Kashmir and Pakistan-based extremism, but the sense of optimism has raised morale at a meeting perennially overshadowed by tension.

In 2008, for example, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit was soured by the bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul just weeks earlier which India blamed on “elements” in Pakistan.

“The trust deficit that typically existed between the two countries for many, many years has been reduced to a large order,” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabb