ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called for a "new beginning" in relations with India in comments published Tuesday, as tensions remained high over the disputed region of Kashmir.
Recent clashes 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, in remarks published by the Associated Press of Pakistan, said it was vital India and Pakistan became "good friends".
"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 made Monday to the state news agency.
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 ambush 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.
Indian foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin welcomed Sharif's comments but said it was vital to uphold the "sanctity" of the LoC.
"We expect Pakistan to abide by publicly stated commitments not to allow its territory or territories under its control to be used for terrorism and violence against India," Akbaruddin told reporters in New Delhi.
The picturesque territory is divided between India and Pakistan by the UN-monitored LoC, but both countries claim it in full.