India PM says serious about peace with Pakistan

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Saturday he's serious about holding peace talks with Pakistan but also criticized the neighboring country, insisting it must create an "appropriate atmosphere" for the dialogue.

In a lengthy address to U.N. General Assembly, his first since taking power in May, Modi said that dialogue needs to take place "without the shadow of terrorism."

Modi invited Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to his inauguration but India in August withdrew from planned talks between their foreign secretaries as Pakistan wanted to consult first with separatists in the disputed region of Kashmir.

In his U.N. address Friday, Nawaz criticized India's withdrawal from the talks, saying the world saw it as a "missed opportunity."

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir since independence in 1947, and India accuses Pakistan of assisting militants that fight against Indian security forces.

"I do want to hold bilateral talks with them but it is also the duty of Pakistan to come forward and create an appropriate atmosphere," Modi said, according to a translation of his comments made in the Hindi language.

He objected to Pakistan raising the dispute over the talks at the U.N., saying it raised questions about their seriousness. Modi said the priority now should be cooperation to aid victims of flooding in Kashmir that has killed hundreds on both sides.

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