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India, Pakistan agree on framework

Supporters of an independent Kashmir movement rally against the peace talks in Muzaffarabad.
Supporters of an independent Kashmir movement rally against the peace talks in Muzaffarabad.

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India fenced almost half its border in the disputed Kashmir province.
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Talks spark hope for those divided by years of conflict.
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• Timeline: Kashmir history
• In-depth: Where conflict rules
Will Tuesday's "broad understanding" lead to a lasting peace between India and Pakistan?
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Indian and Pakistani diplomats have reached a "broad understanding" on a framework for peace talks, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said.

The historic discussions between the nuclear rivals will address the longstanding Kashmir controversy, terrorism and a wide range of economic and trade issues, the ministry said in a statement.

"The two delegations held another round of consultations and came with responses to the various proposals exchanged (Monday)," the ministry's statement said.

"A broad understanding was reached on the modalities and time frame for commencing the composite dialogue."

Recommendations are to be submitted to the respective nations.

Indian and Pakistani foreign ministry officials Tuesday held a second day of landmark talks, which diplomats described as "cordial and constructive."

The envoys have been paving the way for a meeting Wednesday between the two foreign secretaries, the highest-ranking bureaucrats in the rival ministries.

That's when the agenda and structure of the peace talks are expected to be made formal.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee agreed to restart the peace process during a groundbreaking meeting in January.

For more than half a century since independence from Britain, the neighbors have been fighting over Kashmir, the mountainous territory with a Muslim majority claimed by both countries.

In recent years, the territory has been wracked by a bloody insurgency. There were fears the two countries were on the brink of full-scale war during a tense standoff and military buildup sparked by a militant attack on Parliament in New Delhi in December 2001.

But in late 2003 tensions began to ease, and a 2-month-old cease-fire between the two armies along the Line of Control has already helped improve the atmosphere. The Line of Control divides the sections of Kashmir administered by India and Pakistan.

The last peace talks between the two countries were held in July 2001 in Agra, India. That summit floundered on the Kashmir issue and yielded no joint declaration, just a statement of intent for peace and prosperity in the region for the future.

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