MOHALI, India — The prime ministers of India and Pakistan on Wednesday used an exciting cricket match as a backdrop to hold wide-ranging talks on the impediments to improving their often fractious relationship.
As the rival cricket teams played at a stadium in the northern Indian city of Mohali, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart, Yousuf Raza Gilani, chose the game's venue to discuss ways to cement the diplomatic dialogue between their two countries.
"Today it is the Mohali spirit that pervades our relationship. This was an extremely positive and encouraging spirit that has been generated as a result of today's meeting," Nirupama Rao, India's foreign secretary, told reporters at the end of the talks between the leaders.
She said Singh and Gilani had a wide-ranging conversation on a slew of issues of concern to the two countries, including the next moves in a dialogue process that is being resumed after a break over the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.
Gilani has invited Singh to visit Pakistan, and the proposal will be considered, Rao said.
Indicating a gradual thaw, the commerce, defense and foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan would meet over the coming months, eventually leading to the resumption of the peace dialogue between the foreign minister of each country, she said.
Earlier, greeting the players on the pitch, Singh and Gilani shook hands first with the visiting Pakistani team. They then switched positions, with Gilani and Singh shaking hands with the Indian players before the two retreated to their seats in a private box.
Their attendance at the World Cup semifinal coincided with a resumption of talks toward restoring trust between the nuclear-armed neighbors, who for decades have viewed each other as a major threat to national security and have fought three wars.
Gilani said Wednesday he hoped his visit would improve relations and looked forward to watching an exciting match.