Nuclear rivals India, Pakistan agree to find common ground although future talks unclear

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ISLAMABAD — Envoys from India and Pakistan agreed Tuesday to find common ground but there was no decision on whether the rare meeting between the wary rivals would result in future negotiations.

India's Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyan Jaishankar is in Pakistan on a two-day visit that marks the first high-level meeting between India and Pakistan since talks last year broke down.

Both Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart, Aizaz Chaudhry, stressed the need to work together. The nuclear-armed neighbors have fought three wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.

"We engaged on each other's concerns and interests in an open manner. We agreed to work together to find common ground and narrow differences," Jaishankar said after meeting Chaudhry.

"The overall tone of the meeting was positive," Chaudhry said at a separate press conference. Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in a statement that both countries need to start a new chapter in their relationship.

When asked whether any plans were made for future talks, Chaudhry said both sides would reflect on Tuesday's meetings and then decide how to proceed.

The biggest sticking point in the relationship between India and Pakistan is Kashmir, a Himalayan region both claim. Relations were also severely damaged by the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, which India blames on Pakistani militants. Ten gunmen stormed busy areas of the Indian city, killing 166.

"I reiterated our known concerns on cross-border terrorism, including on the Mumbai case," Jaishankar said.

In a sign of progress, Sharif attended the oath-taking of his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi last May. But in August, India called off talks after Islamabad's ambassador in New Delhi met with Kashmiri separatist leaders.

Tensions escalated late last year when both countries traded fire along the de-facto border, killing several people.

During Tuesday's meeting, "we agreed that ensuring peace and tranquility on the border was vital," Jaishankar said. From the Pakistani side, Chaudhry said he stressed the importance of Kashmir to his country. "We need to make a concerted effort to resolve this dispute," he said.

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Associated Press reporter Asif Shahzad contributed to this report.

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