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India and Pakistan meet for talks after nearly going to war

NEW DELHI — Indian and Pakistani officials held their first bilateral meeting since an outbreak of hostilities last month that raised fears the two nuclear-armed neighbors could stumble into war.

After weeks of heightened tensions, officials from the two countries met Thursday for talks on a proposed road link from India to a major Sikh temple in Pakistan.

The shrine, one of the holiest sites for followers of the Sikh religion, is less than 3 miles from the border between the two countries. India and Pakistan agreed in November to create a corridor to the temple to make it easier for Indian pilgrims to visit.

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A joint statement following several hours of talks described the discussions as ‘‘detailed and constructive’’ and said the meeting unfolded in a ‘‘cordial environment.’’

But India has emphasized that the meeting on the shrine, which is located in the Pakistani town of Kartarpur, does not represent a thaw between the two countries.

Raveesh Kumar, spokesman for India’s foreign ministry, said last week that the talks were not a resumption of bilateral dialogue but a sign of respect for ‘‘the emotions and sentiments of Indian citizens of Sikh faith.’’

Tensions between India and Pakistan soared after a suicide bombing on Feb. 14 killed 40 Indian security personnel in the disputed region of Kashmir.

WASHINGTON POST