India and Pakistan held wide-ranging discussions Thursday about terrorism, Kashmir and other disputes in the first talks between the rival nations since the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

India said the four-hour meeting between the two countries' foreign secretaries in New Delhi was intended to begin the process of rebuilding a relationship badly damaged by that deadly siege, which India blames on Pakistan-based militants.


India's Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, left, shakes hands with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir before their meeting in New Delhi on Thursday. ((B Mathur/Reuters))

"We had a useful discussion during which I spelled out forthrightly our concerns on terrorism emanating from Pakistan against India," Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao told reporters after the talks.

"We have to create a climate of trust and confidence."

No issues were resolved in the meeting, which India billed only as "talks about talks."

But they represented a sort of compromise, and an end to 15 months of political pressure, according to political scientist Mirza Asmer Beg, of Aligarh Muslim University.

"Moreover, pressure ... that we should 'act tough' and shouldn't talk to Pakistan," said Beg.

"The general assumption [has been] that these terrorists who create havoc on Indian soil have links in Pakistan," Beg said.

Pakistan has called for the resumption of comprehensive peace talks, but India has demanded it crack down on militant groups operating from its soil first.

'Pakistan's No. 1 priority is to deal with terrorism.' —Salman Bashir, Pakistani foreign secretary

Rao said she reiterated to Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir that his Islamic nation must do more to dismantle terror networks. She gave him dossiers on those linked to the Mumbai attacks, an al-Qaeda-linked militant who has issued threats against India, and Indian fugitives hiding in Pakistan.

Kashmir, water among Pakistani concerns

Pakistan is trying seven men on charges they planned and carried out the Mumbai attacks, which led to the deaths of 166 people, but the militant network blamed for the assault continues to operate relatively freely in the Pakistani city of Lahore.

"As far as the issue of Mumbai is concerned, Pakistan has done everything that was proper and could be done," Bashir said.

"Pakistan's No. 1 priority is to deal with terrorism," he said.

Pakistan used the meeting to raise broader issues including the dispute over Kashmir, allegations that India is aiding militants in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan and a conflict over shared water resources.

Bashir said the two sides need to "engage meaningfully, across the board, on all these issues."

NATO countries, including Canada, hope better relations between India and Pakistan will help to stabilize the region. They also hope it will focus attention on the Taliban, whose members are known to cross from Pakistan into Afghanistan where NATO troops are fighting.

With files from CBC News