India, Pakistan to hold fifth round of dialogue in April

March 12th, 2008 - 2:16 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Benazir Bhutto

New Delhi, March 12 (IANS) With Pakistan’s new government optimistic about expanding ties with India, the two countries are to hold the fifth round of composite dialogue when Foreign Secretary Shivshanakar Menon travels to Islamabad in April. “India has proposed dates for the talks at the level of foreign secretaries in April. The two countries are discussing the dates,” an official source told IANS here.

Menon, a former Indian envoy to Islamabad, will review the progress of the fourth round of composite dialogue with his Pakistani counterpart Riaz Mohammad Khan.

Menon and Khan will discuss a host of bilateral and regional issues. Jammu and Kashmir as well as confidence building measures will figure in the composite dialogue.

Menon’s visit to Islamabad - the first by a top Indian official after an elected government takes charge, likely later this month - will provide India an insight into the thinking of the new regime.

It will be followed by a visit by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to Islamabad in May-June, the source said.

India is waiting for the formation of the new government in Pakistan to resume the peace process that languished due to political turmoil and a spate of suicide bombings in that country last year.

Earlier this month, Asif Ali Zardari, widower of slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, surprised many with his refreshingly pragmatic remarks on Kashmir as well as India-Pakistan relations.

Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) won the most seats in the Feb 18 polls and will head the ruling coalition.

“There is no conflict between India and Pakistan seeking to improve trade and people-to-people contacts and at the same time holding on to their respective positions on Kashmir,” Zardari said in a statement issued by the PPP.

“Differences on Kashmir should not prevent India and Pakistan from benefiting from increasing trade and other bilateral cooperative relationships,” he said.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in National |