UFA/Islamabad - In a breakthrough meeting in Russia on Friday, the prime ministers of Pakistan and India recognised their "collective responsibility” to bring peace and promote development in the region.

After months of stalemate and recriminations, Modi and Sharif spoke for around an hour, on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Ufa, and discussed entire gamut of issues between the two countries.

The two leaders warmly shook hands and posed for the shutterbugs before settling down for the talks. Their meeting ended with Indian premier accepting an invitation from Nawaz Sharif to attend a regional (Saarc) summit in Islamabad next year, signalling a new thaw in ties between the nuclear-armed rivals.

Foreign Secretaries Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry and S Jaishankar held a joint press meet where they read out a joint statement on the outcome of the meeting. The statement, text of which was also released by Pakistan's Foreign Office in Islamabad, said the meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere and the leaders exchanged views on issues of bilateral and regional interest.

Analysts warned major obstacles still lay in the way of significant progress and there was no mention of resumption of formal, comprehensive dialogue process between the two sides in the joint statement prepared by the foreign sectaries of the two states.

The statement, albeit vague, underlined mechanisms for promoting religious tourism and fighting the scourge of terrorism in both countries. It said both leaders recognised their "collective responsibility to ensure peace and promote development". To do so, they are prepared to discuss all outstanding issues.

Both leaders condemned terrorism in all its forms and agreed to cooperate with each other to eliminate this menace from South Asia. Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz will meet in New Delhi to discuss all issues connected to terrorism, the statement said.

Both sides also agreed to hold early meetings of director generals of Pakistan Rangers and Indian Border Security Force (BSF) followed by that of Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs).

It was decided to release fishermen in each other's custody, along with their boats, within a period of 15 days. A mechanism for facilitating religious tourism will also be worked out, as per the five-point ‘steps’ to be taken by the two sides.

The statement also made commitments on some of the most contentious issues between them, including speeding up efforts to bring those behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks to justice. "Both sides agreed to discuss ways and means to expedite the Mumbai case trial including additional information like providing voice samples," the statement said.

In a brief chat with the media, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed satisfaction over his meeting with the Indian prime minister. He said the meeting was held in a cordial environment.

A Foreign Office spokesman told newsmen in Islamabad that the meeting between the two leaders was a positive development. He expressed the hope that it would have a positive impact on bilateral relations between the two countries. He said the international community was also interested in improvement of relations between Pakistan and India because it would benefit not only the peoples of the two countries but also the whole region.

Indian officials had previously refused to confirm Modi's participation at the next summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc), which is being held in Pakistan's capital. But Sharif used the Russia talks as an opportunity to reiterate the request and Modi accepted it this time. It will be the first time that Modi - who has a reputation as a hardline nationalist - has travelled to Pakistan since coming to power. While Sharif did attend Indian PM’s inauguration in May last year, relations soon cooled amid flare-ups in violence along the border in Kashmir, the Himalayan region which is claimed by both countries.

The two countries have fought three wars since the partition of the subcontinent in the wake of independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over Kashmir. Since 1989 several rebel groups have waged campaigns against the hundreds of thousands of Indian forces deployed in Kashmir, hoping to achieve independence or the territory's merger with Pakistan.

Modi's government was furious in April when Pakistani authorities freed the alleged mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, on bail. India has seethed at Pakistan's failure either to hand over or prosecute those accused of planning and organising the attacks. Pakistan says India has failed to give it crucial evidence, such as recordings between the attackers and their handlers.

A senior Pakistani security official acknowledged Delhi had "concerns" over Lakhvi but added that Islamabad was unhappy at what it regards as interference by India in restive Balochistan. "The two sides will have to sincerely address each other's concerns," the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP. "There are serious misunderstandings and sincere efforts will be required to melt the ice and the visit alone will not be enough."

KG Suresh, a senior fellow at the Vivekananda International Foundation think-tank in New Delhi, also sounded a note of caution. "The ice has been broken. It's a welcome step. India has always shown, particularly this government, from the day that it was sworn-in that it wants good neighbourly relations," he said. "But let us be realistic, let us not expect miracles. Any progress in India-Pakistan relations would be slow and steady."