S Asia rivals agree on Mumbai probe

Peace moves were put on hold after Pakistan-based militants attacked Mumbai

Indian and Pakistani officials are to visit each other’s countries to investigate the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

The move is being seen as a breakthrough and follows talks between the sides in the Indian capital, Delhi.

A joint statement said officials also agreed to set up a hot line to share information about terrorist threats.

The news comes a day before Pakistani PM Yousuf Raza Gilani is due in India to attend the Cricket World Cup semi-final between the two sides.

He is travelling at the personal invitation of India’s Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh.

Relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours hit a low after Pakistani militants attacked India’s commercial capital, Mumbai (Bombay).

The attack drove Delhi to cut ties with Islamabad, but earlier this year it announced talks could resume.

Cricket diplomacy

Tuesday’s joint statement was issued after two days of talks between the home secretaries.

“Pakistan conveyed its readiness, in principle, based upon the principle of comity and reciprocity, to entertain a commission from India with respect to Mumbai terror attack investigations,” it said, adding that details of the visit still had to be worked out.

India believes the attacks were planned in Pakistan with the support of elements within the military – a charge Islamabad has always denied.

In return, the statement said Pakistani officials would travel to Mumbai in connection with the trial of Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab, the only gunman captured alive after the attacks.

The dates of the visit, the statement said, would be “conveyed by India within four to six weeks”.

Last month the high court in Mumbai upheld the death penalty for Qasab. The assault on the city killed 165 people. Nine other militants also died.

The Delhi talks have been bolstered by Mr Singh’s cricket diplomacy and much attention will be focused on the two prime ministers’ discussions while they watch Wednesday’s match in the northern city of Mohali.

In February, the two countries agreed to resume peace talks “on all issues”. Peace moves were put on hold after the 2008 attacks, although the sides have met a number of times in the past year.

Pakistan’s foreign minister will visit India by July to review progress in the dialogue.

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