JAMMU: India’s prime minister said Friday he was approaching new peace talks with Pakistan with an “open mind”, saying all disputes including Kashmir would be discussed.
New Delhi and Islamabad announced on February 10 that they would resume full peace talks which were suspended more than two years ago after gunmen from Pakistan attacked India’s financial capital Mumbai.
“We wish to resolve all outstanding issues between the two countries through friendly dialogue and constructive and purposeful negotiations,” Manmohan Singh said at a function at a university in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir.
“This includes the issue of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said in Jammu, Kashmir’s winter capital which has been largely unaffected by an Islamic insurgency that flared in the Muslim-majority region in 1989.
Kashmir is divided between the two countries along a de facto border, but is claimed in full by both.
Former Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was slated to visit India in July at the start of the full-scale resumption of talks before he was removed from his post in the cabinet reshuffle.
Ties between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, which have fought two of their three wars since 1947 over Kashmir, have been dogged by border and resource disputes, and accusations of Pakistani militant activity in India.
“We are willing to discuss all issues that have a bearing on the peace, dignity and well-being of the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” Singh added.
Indian Kashmir last year saw some of its biggest protests against Indian rule, leaving more than 110 protesters dead, mostly in police firings on stone-throwing young men.
“This subcontinent of ours will not realise its full development potential unless relations between India and Pakistan are normalised,” Singh said.
India and Pakistan embarked on a formal peace dialogue in 2004, which continued until the rupture caused by the Mumbai attacks, blamed by India on Pakistan-based militants.