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Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi exchange greetings at summit

The leaders of rivals India and Pakistan have met for the first time in 17 months, at a summit in Kazakhstan, officials said, despite renewed tensions over Kashmir.

Indian premier Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif shook hands and exchanged greetings late Thursday at the opening of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting in Astana.

Modi and Sharif last met on the sidelines of the Paris climate summit in December 2015 before Modi surprised the world with an impromptu visit to Pakistan the same month.

An Indian foreign ministry official said that as it was the first contact between the leaders since Sharif underwent surgery, Modi enquired about the Pakistani leader’s health.

“He also enquired about Sharif´s mother and his family”, the official said on condition of anonymity.

Following Modi’s visit to Pakistan, relations quickly deteriorated after suspected Pakistan-based militants attacked an Indian airbase in Pathankot in January 2016 killing six Indian soldiers.

New Delhi suspended peace talks accusing the rival government of continuing to “sponsor terrorism”, a charge Pakistan denies.

There have also been renewed tensions in the disputed Kashmir territory which is split between the two. Militants killed 19 Indian soldiers in a raid on a military camp in September 2016.

In response, India launched strikes inside Pakistan, targeting accused militant havens.

Indian and Pakistani troops regularly trade fire on the Kashmir frontline, while the governments are also in a legal tussle over the death sentence imposed in Pakistan against an Indian accused of spying.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since they gained independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over Kashmir.

–AFP