World Bulletin / News Desk
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is sending his top diplomat to Pakistan as part of a regional tour, the first top-ranking visit since Modi broke off talks last year over the disputed region of Kashmir.
The United States has long privately encouraged dialogue between India and Pakistan hoping that better ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours could lead to cooperation in other areas such as Afghanistan.
Modi called his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, early on Friday to wish his country luck in the World Cup cricket tournament beginning this weekend and to tell him that new Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyan Jaishankar will soon visit Islamabad as well as other regional capitals.
Sharif told Modi he welcomed the proposed visit of the Indian envoy to discuss all issues of common interest, the Pakistani foreign office said in a statement.
In Washington, the U.S. State Department welcomed the move.
"The relationship between India and Pakistan is critical to advancing peace and security in South Asia, so we would certainly welcome any resumption of talks between the two countries," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a regular news conference.
India considers the whole of Kashmir an integral part of the country and its decision to halt the talks represented a stiffening of its stand on the 68-year-old dispute over the territory.
The neighbours have fought two wars over Kashmir since independence from Britain in 1947 and ties remain difficult since a 2008 attack on Mumbai.