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India, Pakistan to resume cricket diplomacy as relations thaw

By Harmeet Shah Singh, CNN
updated 10:25 AM EDT, Mon July 16, 2012
India and Pakistan last met in the 2011 World Cup semifinal, but have not played a series together since 2007.
India and Pakistan last met in the 2011 World Cup semifinal, but have not played a series together since 2007.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • India and Pakistan to play international cricket again after five-year suspension
  • India ceased all cricketing activity with its neighbor following 2008 Mumbai terror attacks
  • A short one-day international series will take place between December and January
  • The two nuclear powers will be hoping to use cricket as a means of easing political tensions

New Delhi, India (CNN) -- Indian cricket authorities have announced plans to host Pakistan later this year for the first one-on-one series between the South Asian rivals in five years.

"It was decided to resume cricketing ties with Pakistan by inviting the Pakistan cricket team for a short series in December 2012-January 2013," the Indian cricket board said in a statement Monday. "The modalities will be worked out shortly."

India and Pakistan suspended their peace process and cricketing ties after the 2008 terror attack on Mumbai. The assault, which left more than 160 people dead, was blamed on Pakistani militants.

The two nuclear neighbors have in the past used cricket as a platform to ease relations.

Last year, then-Pakistan prime minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani watched a Cricket World Cup match between the two nations with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh as part of efforts to rebuild trust broken off by the Mumbai siege.

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In 2005, Singh and then-Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf saw a cricket game in a New Delhi stadium. In 1987, Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Pakistan Gen. Muhammad Zia ul-Haq attended a similar match in Jaipur.

The last time the two sides played a head-to-head series was in 2007.

Monday's announcement by the Indian cricket chiefs came after foreign secretaries of both nations emphasized earlier this month, at their meeting in New Delhi, the need to promote sporting contacts.

Relations have thawed between India and Pakistan since they pledged last year not to let their talks unravel again over the range of thorny issues that put them at odds.

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