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First Pakistani trip for top Indian official since Mumbai attack

Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram leaves parliament in New Delhi on November 23, 2009.
Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram leaves parliament in New Delhi on November 23, 2009.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram to visit Pakistan at end of February
  • First high-level official visit since attacks on Mumbai in November 2008
  • More than 160 people were killed in co-ordinated attacks on hotels and other buildings
  • Authorities in New Delhi accused militants in Pakistan of plotting the three-day siege
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New Delhi, India (CNN) -- An Indian government official soon will be making the first high-level visit to Pakistan since the 2008 Mumbai attack, a trip that indicates a thaw in relations between the rival South Asian nations, the government said.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram will be traveling to Pakistan for a meeting of interior ministers from the eight-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation in a two-day trip beginning February 26.

"Chidambaram will get a chance to have very useful exchanges with his counterparts and other leaders in Pakistan," External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna said Wednesday. Krishna made the remarks to reporters accompanying him on his two-day official visit to Kuwait.

Krishna also indicated the possibility of Chidambaram holding bilateral meetings with Rehman Malik, his Pakistani counterpart.

Malik told CNN he is looking forward to the talks.

India says it will be the first visit by an Indian minister to Pakistan since the November 26, 2008, attacks on Mumbai, India's financial capital, which left more than 160 people dead.

Relations between the two countries became strained when authorities in New Delhi accused militants in Pakistan of plotting the three-day siege on hotels and other buildings, derailing the fragile peace process between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.

Before that, the last visit by an Indian minister to Pakistan had been in May 2008, when then-External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee traveled there.

However, India appears to be more willing to engage with Pakistan at present because of its efforts to cooperate with India in probing the attack and bringing the masterminds of the attack to justice.

The two countries have also had a long-running dispute over the Kashmir region, where India accuses Pakistan of fueling an insurgency against India.

The two nations have fought three wars over the territory since their independence in 1947 and routinely exchanged fire along the border, known as the Line of Control, until a 2003 ceasefire agreement.

CNN's Kiran Khalid and Harmeet Shah Singh contributed to this report

 
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