India on Monday repeated an offer to talk with pro-independent Kashmiris, seeking peace in the restive region at a time it is trying to mend ties with Pakistan.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's offer is seen as an attempt to improve the environment in the territory at the heart of the dispute between New Delhi and Islamabad, crucial to normalising ties between the nuclear-armed rivals.
"I would like to say to our neighbours across the line of control that they should help in creating an environment in which people from both the sides can live in peace and harmony and work together," he said, refering to the de-facto border that divides Kashmir.
The Himalayan region is at the heart of a decades-long dispute between India and Pakistan, who have fought two of their three wars over the issue since they won freedom from British rule in 1947.
Kashmiris see India as an “occupier” and accuse the ruling of systematic violations, killing dozens of civilians in Himalayan region.
More than 68,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in the uprising and subsequent Indian crackdown in 1989.
The neighbours, which have fought two wars over Kashmir which they claim in full but rule in part, in April began taking steps to thaw relations frozen after New Delhi claimed that some Pakistani attackers were behind of the Mumbai attacks in November 2008 .
The Indian leader called on Islamabad to help build a peaceful environment.
In 1948, the United Nations adopted a resolution calling for a referendum for Kashmir to determine whether the Himalayan region should be part of India and Pakistan. But India has rejected to hold referendum in Kashmiri territory.
ReutersLast Mod: 08 Haziran 2010, 08:49