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India, Pakistan leaders meet after unlikely exchange over mom's sweets

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The first one-on-one meeting between India's newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif was held Monday. (Source: CNN) The first one-on-one meeting between India's newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif was held Monday. (Source: CNN)
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NEW DELHI, India (CNN) - A firm but simple handshake sent a message to the world on Monday that the heads of India and Pakistan are ready to talk.

And talk they did on Tuesday during the first one-on-one meeting between India's newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.

The meeting at Hyderabad House, a former palace in New Delhi, is said to have lasted 50 minutes.

Sharif flew to New Delhi at Modi's request to attend his inauguration on Monday - the biggest gathering of South Asian leaders ever assembled for an Indian prime minister's swearing-in.

In a series of tweets posted after the ceremony, Modi revealed the two had exchanged words.

Sharif "shared some very emotional things," Modi said, before recounting a rather strange story Sharif told him about how his mother became emotional while watching television images of Modi's own mother offering him sweets.

In an interview with Indian television station NDTV, Sharif was reported to have described his attendance at Modi's inauguration as a "great opportunity, a great moment."

"He said that this strong mandate frees up leaders on both sides ... to actually turn a new page in the history of India and Pakistan," NDTV's Barkha Dutt said.

Long dispute

Relations have been strained between the two countries since 1947, the year the Asian subcontinent partitioned into Islamic Pakistan and Hindu-majority India as it gained independence from British rule.

In the decades since, they have fought a number of wars and clashed over Kashmir, an 86,000 square-mile region to the north.

Efforts to agree a peace deal took a major step back in 2008 when Pakistani militants attacked the Indian city of Mumbai, killing more than 160 people in a series of coordinated assaults.

In 2011, the two countries agreed to return to the negotiating table, and since then, relations have continued to thaw.

In 2012, former President Asif Ali Zardari became the first Pakistani leader to visit India in seven years.

He held talks with then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who emerged from the 30-minute meeting saying both nations were willing to find "practical and pragmatic" solutions to their differences. Zardari described the talks as "fruitful."

Sharif is said to have expressed the same optimism for the countries' relationship in his interview with NDTV on Monday.

"Both governments have a strong mandate. This could help in turning a new page in our relations," Sharif told NDTV.

"We should remove fears, mistrust and misgivings about each other. Both countries should rid the region of instability and security that has plagued us for decades."

Modi's meeting with Sharif is one of a series of bilateral meetings scheduled with regional leaders on his first day as India's 15th prime minister.

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