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Pakistan 'to restore India links'

Jamali held meetings with political opponents to discuss holding talks with India.
Jamali held meetings with political opponents to discuss holding talks with India.

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SPECIAL REPORT
• Timeline: Kashmir history
• In-depth: Where conflict rules

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- In a significant shift in relations in South Asia, Pakistan has matched India's offer to bring back full diplomatic ties and to re-open transport links.

Amid new signs of a growing momentum toward peaceful ties between the two neighbors, Pakistan has also pressed for talks that would include discussion of the two countries' nuclear arsenals.

"Nuclear realities in our region impose certain obligations and responsibilities on our two countries," Pakistani Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali said Tuesday, responding to India's overtures last week.

The disputed region of Kashmir is at the center of strained relations between India and Pakistan.

Encouraged by developments between the two nations, Jamali said Pakistan planned to resume bus, train and air links and normal diplomatic links.

"In additional to the exchange of the two high commissioners, we also propose restoration of the full strength of the missions of the two countries in their respective capitals," the prime minister said.

Jamali also called for the resumption of sports ties, beginning with cricket and field hockey, and the release of Indian fishermen who were jailed after wandering into Pakistani waters.

He also offered to host an upcoming summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation in Islamabad and listed other measures to make the regional group more effective.

The announcement came after Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee told the Indian parliament last week he would restore diplomatic ties with Pakistan and reopen air links.

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir.
India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir.

The thaw started last month. Jamali called Vajpayee -- the first contact between the leaders in 18 months -- saying he was prepared to work to resolve all issues between the countries.

Vajpayee announced he was willing to open talks with Pakistan on Kashmir, providing Islamabad stops what he called "cross-border infiltration" into the Indian part of Kashmir.

The breakthrough arises as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage prepared to visit both countries next month to launch a new round of diplomatic efforts to diminish tensions.

Jamali said he had sent a formal invitation to Vajpayee to visit Pakistan. "We believe that all outstanding issues between Pakistan and India must be addressed sincerely and constructively and in a composite manner though a sustained dialogue with a sense of priority."

The PM said he hoped India and Pakistan would "move forward" to resolve all issues, including Kashmir.

Both sides moved to the brink of war last year during a tense standoff over the Kashmir region, sparked by a deadly attack on India's parliament that was blamed on militants tied to Pakistan.

India blames Pakistan for arming, training and encouraging cross-border militancy that has claimed more than 30,000 lives in the Himalayan territory since a separatism movement took root in 1989.

Pakistan denies the charge and insists it provides only moral and diplomatic support for the Kashmiri people's right to self-determination.

"Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and would continue to cooperate with the international community to eliminate this scourge," Jamali said.

India controls two-thirds of the region, Pakistan the other third. Each country claims Kashmir as its own.

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir.

-- Islamabad Bureau Chief Ash-har Quraishi and New Delhi Bureau Chief Satinder Bindra contributed to this report


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