June 14, 2011 / 1:39 PM / 8 years ago

Indian foreign secretary due in Pakistan to discuss Kashmir

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - India’s Foreign Secretary is due to visit Pakistan this month to discuss Kashmir, a Pakistani official said Tuesday, the first formal talks between the two rivals on their core dispute since 2008, but analysts expect no breakthroughs.

Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao (L) speaks next to her Pakistani counterpart Salam Bashir during a news conference in Islamabad June 24, 2010. REUTERS/Mian Khursheed

India broke off peace negotiations with Pakistan after the Mumbai attacks in 2008 by Pakistan-based militants that killed 166 people, but the two sides agreed earlier this year to resume talks.

Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir were assigned to tackle the territorial argument over Kashmir, which lies at the heart of tension between the two nuclear-armed states.

“She (Nirupama Rao) is expected here later this month to discuss peace and security, Jammu and Kashmir as well as friendly exchanges,” the Pakistani foreign ministry official told Reuters.

Rao is due to retire on July 31.

The talks are expected to improve ties between the two neighbours, which have fought two of their three wars since independence in 1947 over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, but analysts say any breakthrough is unlikely.

“It is a revival of the peace process. Definitely Kashmir will be discussed,” said Mutahir Ahmed, a professor at the Department of International Relations at the University of Karachi. “It’s a positive development but one should not expect any big and immediate results out of these talks.”

“Kashmir is an old and complicated issue and it cannot be resolved so easily.”

India accuses its neighbour of arming, abetting and sending Islamist militants into its part of divided Kashmir, which both sides claim in full. India has also tried to use the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan by U.S. forces last month to ratchet up pressure on Islamabad to do more to tackle militancy.

Pakistan denies India’s charges.

The rivalry between Pakistan and India complicates Western efforts to stabilise Afghanistan and the South Asian region.

The two countries have been under pressure from the United States to try to ease tensions that spill over into Afghanistan.

They have held talks on a range of issues including a border dispute over a river estuary, a row over Siachen glacier — the highest battlefield in the Himalayan region — as well as ways to build commercial ties.

Additional reporting by Henry Foy in New Delhi; Editing by Chris Allbritton and Daniel Magnowski

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