India: Talks with Pakistan undeterred by Pune attack
Indian officials said Monday that upcoming peace talks with Pakistan are on track despite Saturday's attacks in Pune which some suspect were orchestrated by a Pakistan-based terrorist group.
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Although there is no confirmed Pakistan link to the Pune bombing, analysts say the announcement shows that India is not allowing itself to be easily derailed from what will be the first peace talks since Delhi broke off dialogue between the two nuclear-armed nations after the Nov. 2008 Mumbai (Bombay) attacks that killed about 165. The Pune bombing is the largest terrorist attack on India since then.
No one has claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack, but suspicion quickly fell on militant Islamic groups. A bomb hidden in a rucksack under a table in the "German Cafe" killed nine people – including an Iranian and an Italian – and injured 60, according to Bloomberg. Pune, known for its prosperous IT and auto industry, is 125 miles southeast of Mumbai (click here for a map).
An Indian official told Agence France-Presse on Monday that there was "no change" to the US-backed "Indo-Pak" talks between the countries' foreign ministers, which were announced only one day before the Pune bombing. While on a visit Monday to the Indian capital en route to Islamabad, Sen. John Kerry (D) of Massachusetts encouraged the two nations to push forward with dialogue, reports the Wall Street Journal.
"The right thing is to talk; you lose nothing by talking," Kerry said. If India finds a Pakistani link to the Pune attack, "I hope India will have that conversation with Pakistan and, if they have evidence to that effect, that should be the first thing on the table and Pakistan has to deal with it," he added.
The Obama administration has an interest in the dialogue as it has encouraged ally Pakistan to focus efforts on Taliban militants in its North-West Frontier Province and in Afghanistan rather than on Pakistan's tradition rival, India, according to the Washington Post.