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When India and Pakistan are at each other's throats, as they've been for the past 16 months, they are openly and dangerously hostile: mobilizing hundreds of thousands of troops, deporting each other's diplomats, test-firing nuclear-capable missiles. But when they start talking, they're almost demure, as if steps towards peace are more awkward than those that might lead to war.

Early last week, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf ordered his foreign office to find out whether Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee might accept a phone call from Islamabad. The diplomats said he would. Musharraf told Prime Minister Mir...

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