Indian premier hopes for good relations with new order in Pakistan

(dpa) - Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday invited the new leaders of Pakistan to put the past behind them and work with India on a framework for enduring peace.

"India wants to live in peace with Pakistan. The destinies of our two nations are interlinked," Singh said in parliament. "I would like to assure the newly-elected leadership of Pakistan that we seek good relations with Pakistan."

Nuclear-capable South Asian neighbours India and Pakistan have fought three wars since their independence from British rule in 1947. Two of these were over the disputed Kashmir region.

"We need to put the past behind us," Singh said in a strong message to Pakistan's political leadership. "We need to think about our collective destiny, our collective security, our collective prosperity."

Congratulating the people of Pakistan for exercising their right to choose their own government, Singh said: "I believe that in both countries there is a consensus that we must have close and cooperative relations and a framework of enduring peace." He hoped Pakistan's newly-elected leaders would respond quickly and move forward with India on this.

India is keen to resume a bilateral dialogue to resolve differences, including border issues and Kashmir, initiated in 2004 by then Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.

The dialogue has seen progress on various people-to-people contacts and resumption of road and rail links, but there has been little movement forward on contentious disputes over Kashmir and borders.

"The (Indian) government stands ready to resume the composite dialogue process as soon as a duly constituted government is in place in Pakistan," India's Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said during a foreign policy statement in parliament on Monday.

Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League and the late Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party have emerged as the two largest parties in the elections held in Pakistan February and are trying to cobble together a coalition government.

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