India, Pakistan talks deferred after air base attack

A woman lights a candle during a memorial service for the victims of the attack in Mumbai, India, Jan 6, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - India and Pakistan have agreed to reschedule talks between their foreign secretaries, the Indian foreign ministry said on Thursday (Jan 14), while an investigation into a deadly attack on an Indian military base is carried out.

India has demanded action against the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad that it suspects of carrying out the attack on the Pathankot air base. Islamabad has held Jaish leader Maulana Masood Azhar and other members, sources say.

Indian foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said New Delhi welcomed the steps taken by Pakistan against the militant group, which was also blamed for a 2001 parliament attack that nearly led to a war between the nuclear-armed rivals.

He said the foreign secretaries of the neighbours spoke on the telephone and decided to defer the talks that had been tentatively scheduled for Friday (Jan 15) in Islamabad.

The two diplomats agreed to hold the talks aimed at achieving a thaw in ties in the very near future but no date was announced.

The Pakistani foreign office said a new date had not yet been decided. "We welcome the statement issued by the government of Pakistan yesterday on the investigations into the Pathankot terrorist attack," Swarup told reporters.

"The statement conveys that considerable progress has been made in the investigations being carried out against terrorist elements linked to the Pathankot incident."

Seven Indian military personnel were killed in the Jan 2 attack on the base in the northern state of Punjab, which was followed by a raid on an Indian consulate in Afghanistan that has also been linked to Jaish-e-Mohammad, or the Army of Mohammad.

Pakistan, which India has long accused of backing Islamist militants, promised to investigate who was behind the assault on the air base after India handed over evidence that it said implicated Jaish-e-Mohammad.

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