ISLAMABAD – After a three year long derailment, India and Pakistan reconciliation talks resumed after talks were secretly held in Bangkok between the two countries. In a surprising move, Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Islamabad and held talks with Pakistani officials, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Swaraj is the most-senior Indian government official to visit Pakistan in three years.

The development comes after several countries, especially the United States, urged the two countries to mend relations amid fears of military conflict. A regular exchange of fire takes place between India and Pakistan across the disputed border in the Kashmir region. After Mumbai terror attacks in 2008, India has accused Pakistan of supporting terrorist groups, something Pakistan declares untrue.

The outcome of the talks held in Islamabad has been positive. Swaraj, who was visiting Islamabad to participate in a conference on peace and development in Afghanistan, said at a press briefing that the two sides have decided to resume a broad discussion under the name of “Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue”. Due to disagreement from both parties on what to discuss first, all issues will be discussed simultaneously in different working groups.

Speaking at the Heart of Asia ministerial conference on Afghanistan, Swaraj said: “Let me take this opportunity to extend our hand to Pakistan. The entire world is waiting and rooting for a change. Let us not disappoint them.”. US Deputy Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, also visiting Islamabad for the conference said: “TheUnited States supports any efforts that both parties can take to reduce tensions, increase stability and improve their relations.”

Nudrat RazaCorrespondent (Asia: South)