KATMANDU, Nepal -- Breaking weeks of tension, the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan shook hands and smiled on Wednesday, hinting that diplomatic talks could ease the disharmony that has pushed troops toward their shared frontier.
But suspected Islamic militants detonated two grenades near the legislature in Srinagar, killing one policeman and wounding at least 24 other people in the summer capital of Jammu-Kashmir state in India, police said. And in southern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani forces traded mortar and small-arms fire across the disputed border -- a more intense version of what is a common occurrence even in calmer times.
Indian External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh and Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar shook hands, spoke amiably and smiled Wednesday in a conference room in Katmandu, Nepal, where a meeting of South Asian nations is convening.
"The ice is melting," Pakistani government spokesman Ashfaq Ahmad Gondal said after the Cabinet ministers of seven nations talked about economic development and then went to dinner together.
Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, are scheduled to join other leaders in Nepal Friday.
Singh has not specifically ruled out a meeting, though a Vajpayee spokesman said earlier that none were planned "at any level." Pakistan has said repeatedly it would be willing to meet with India and that tension should be defused through talks.
Sattar also suggested Pakistan would consider extraditing terrorism suspects if India met "legal requirements," The Nation newspaper reported Wednesday.
The South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation summit is pivotal because it offers the possibility of direct diplomatic contact between the two nations, which has been scarce of late. Last week, India sent home half of Pakistan's diplomats, and Pakistan responded in kind.
Tense relations worsened sharply after a Dec. 13 suicide attack on the Indian Parliament on Dec. 13 that killed 14 people. India said the attack was orchestrated by Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, two Pakistani-backed militant groups fighting India's rule over two-thirds of Kashmir. Pakistan controls the rest of the Himalayan territory.
Pakistan denies the charges.
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