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ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has called for a "new beginning" in relations with India in comments published Tuesday, amid high tension over the disputed region of Kashmir.
Clashes in recent weeks across the heavily militarised Line of Control (LoC), which divides the Himalayan territory between India and Pakistan, have raised the temperature between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
Sharif said it was vital India and Pakistan became "good friends", in remarks published Tuesday by the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), the state news agency.
"Let us make a new beginning. Let us sit together to resolve all outstanding issues in a friendly manner and in a peaceful atmosphere," he said in comments on Monday.
India's army on Tuesday accused Pakistan of firing across the LoC late on Monday in the latest confrontation.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence in 1947, two over Kashmir. A deadly flare-up along the LoC in January derailed peace talks that had only just resumed after a hiatus sparked by the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
"We must become good friends. Hold each other's hands. We must sit together with open and clean heart," Sharif said, adding that Pakistan had "a lot of love and affection" for the Indian people.
Sharif has stressed his desire for better relations with India since his election in May. But tensions have flared in the Kashmir valley since the killing last week of five Indian soldiers, which India blamed on the Pakistani army.
Pakistan accused India of killing a civilian during firing on Monday and summoned its envoy in Islamabad to register a protest.
The picturesque Himalayan territory is divided between India and Pakistan by the UN-monitored LoC, but both countries claim it in full.