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Pakistan, India agree to cooperate on eliminating terrorism

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, speaks at a reception in honour of the participants in the BRICS and SCO Summits in Ufa, Russia, Thursday, July 9, 2015. (Alexei Druzhinin, RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The prime ministers of nuclear-armed rivals Pakistan and India agreed at a rare meeting on Friday to cooperate on eliminating terrorism in South Asia, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said.

In a sign of easing relations, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also accepted his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif’s invitation to attend a South Asian regional summit to be held in Islamabad next year.

“Both sides condemned terrorism in all its forms and agreed to cooperate with each other to eliminate the menace of terrorism from south Asia,” Pakistani Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said in a statement.

Sharif and Modi met in the Russian city of Ufa, where they are attending summits of the BRICS trade group and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Pakistani television showed the pair shaking hands and smiling.

The hostility between Pakistan and India dates back seven decades, but strains have grown since nationalist Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office a year ago. Last month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry voiced “enormous” concern over heightened tensions between the two countries.

Both sides have accused the other of fomenting terrorism. Pakistan alleges that India’s spy agency is behind violence in the southwestern Baluchistan province and northwestern tribal regions.

New Delhi denies the charge, saying Pakistan should present solid evidence to back up its claim.

Meanwhile, India wants Pakistan to punish those who carried out deadly attacks in the heart of Mumbai in 2008 that left 166 people dead. Relations have deteriorated since April, when a Pakistani court freed Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the suspected mastermind of the attacks, on bail.

Both sides agreed Friday to find ways to expedite the Mumbai case, Chaudhry said.

He said security officials of Pakistan and India will meet in New Delhi to discuss all issues relating to terrorism. Officials overseeing Pakistani and Indian border issues will also meet, although he gave no dates.

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir, which has been divided between them since British colonialists left in 1947.

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