Top Indian diplomat to visit Pakistan after souring of relations

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena (far left) watch as Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar (far right) and Sri Lankan Foreign Affairs Secretary Chitranganee Wagiswara (left) exchange MoU on th
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena (far left) watch as Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar (far right) and Sri Lankan Foreign Affairs Secretary Chitranganee Wagiswara (left) exchange MoU on the Establishment of Nalanda University during a signing agreement ceremony in New Delhi on February 16, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (AFP) - A top Indian diplomat will travel to Pakistan on March 3 for the first high-level visit since already tense ties between the arch rivals soured last year, the government said on Wednesday.

Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyan Jaishankar will hold meetings with officials in Islamabad as part of a regional tour that also includes Bhutan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

The Foreign Ministry released dates for the trip after announcing the tour earlier this month, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi phoned his Pakistani counterpart to wish his cricket team luck in the World Cup.

Officials have not said whether the visit and Mr Modi's ice-breaking phone call would result in peace talks resuming between foreign secretaries of the nuclear-armed neighbours - talks Mr Modi abruptly cancelled last year.

Relations have soured over increased firing along their borders and India halting the talks in August, enraged that Pakistan consulted Kashmiri separatist leaders before the dialogue began.

The United States has appealed to both nations to resume the talks.

Pakistan and India, who have fought two of their three wars over disputed Muslim-majority Kashmir, have traded blame for an upsurge in firing and shelling which started in October.