MALDIVES: The foreign ministers of India and Pakistan said Wednesday that trust between their countries had improved, providing the foundation for a renewed push at their troubled peace process.
India's SM Krishna and his counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar arrived at a South Asian regional summit in the Maldives speaking optimistically of the improvements in ties achieved during talks over the last few months.
Referring to a "very positive atmosphere" between the countries, Krishna said that the "trust deficit" with Pakistan was shrinking and that they should now look at a "joint strategy" to fight terror.
"I think our relationship with Pakistan is becoming a little more stable than what it was before," Krishna said as he flew to the Maldives, the Press Trust of India news agency said.
Khar, appearing briefly before reporters, also said that the environment was improved ahead of bilateral talks between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.
"I can certainly say from our side that we look at this environment to have improved considerably. The trust deficit that typically existed between the two countries for many, many years has been reduced to a large order," she said.
Both leaders also acknowleged the difficult work to do, not least tackling the vexed subject of Kashmir.
"We have many, many more miles to move ahead," Khar said.
Last week, Pakistan's cabinet announced it had approved a proposal giving India the status of "most favoured nation" which would help open the highly restricted flow of goods over their border.
Washington has actively pushed them together, hoping that a lull in tensions will enable Pakistan to concentrate on fighting militants on its western border who are active in Afghanistan.
Khar said the threat of terrorism was a challenge to both India and Pakistan and will be addressed by leaders at the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit.
Efforts to reduce tensions have been complicated by the increasing influence of Afghanistan in the bilateral equation.
India and Afghanistan signed a wide-ranging strategic partnership deal last month, leading to suspicion in Pakistan which is vehemently opposed to its arch-foe meddling in what it considers its backyard.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai will also attend the SAARC summit, along with the leaders of other member nations Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Correction: An earlier version of the story incorrectly stated that the Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh made the statement at the SAARC Summit. The error is regretted.
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