ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan’s foreign policy chief will visit India for security talks on Aug. 23, he said on Thursday, in the rivals’ first attempt in months to restart efforts to improve ties despite intermittent violence on their border.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, agreed to a new round of talks when they met in Russia last month.
As part of the rapprochement effort, the nuclear-armed neighbors agreed that India’s national security adviser, Ajit Doval, would hold talks with his Pakistani counterpart, Sartaj Aziz.
Since the prime ministers’ meeting, however, a series of militant attacks and border skirmishes have poisoned the atmosphere.
Nevertheless, Aziz said he would be traveling to the Indian capital, New Delhi, next week and he hoped the talks would at least break the ice on some of a range of outstanding issues.
“Our prime minister has always believed in dialogue as far as India is concerned,” Aziz told a news conference in Islamabad. “So I’ll be going there this month.”
India has blamed Pakistan for instigating the attacks over recent weeks but Pakistan says India is accusing it without any evidence.
Pakistan has accused India for firing on the border first.
Tension tends to increase ahead of attempts at dialogue, with analysts and diplomats on both sides saying the attacks are engineered by hardline elements within the two countries who oppose rapprochement.
The countries, which have fought three wars since independence in 1947, are approaching the talks with starkly different expectations.
While India sees the meeting as an opportunity for it to prove its long-held view that militants get support from over its western border, Pakistan wants the dialogue to be broader and form the basis for deeper engagement.
India has long accused neighboring Pakistan of pushing separatist Muslim militants into India’s portion of the Kashmir region to foment revolt in India’s only Muslim-majority region, which both nations claim.
Muslim Pakistan says it only gives moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people in the face of human rights abuses by Indian forces.
Reporting by Mehreen Zahra-Malik and Asad Hashim; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Robert Birsel