India, Pakistan begin talks; terror, Kashmir on agenda (Lead)June 24th, 2010 - 2:27 pm ICT by IANS
Islamabad/New Delhi, June 24 (IANS) The foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan Thursday opened talks on a range of issues, including Kashmir, in the first such meeting in Islamabad since the Mumbai terror attack in a bid to revive the bilateral dialogue.
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao began delegation-level talks with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir on bilateral issues, including terrorims, the Jammu and Kashmir dispute and confidence-building steps.
The talks will firm up the agenda for the crucial meeting between Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Islamabad July 15.
A day before the foreign secretaries began talks in Islamabad, Krishna struck a realistic note on the talks.
“We don’t expect anything spectacular. The relationship between India and Pakistan is so complex,” he told reporters in New Delhi. The purpose of the talks is to prepare for his visit to Islamabad next month, he said.
This is the first round of talks since the thaw initiated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani nearly two months ago, directing their foreign ministers and secretaries to meet and work out modalities of restoring trust between them.
Ten terrorists had held Mumbai hostage for 60 hours in November 2008, killing 166 Indians and foreigners. India gave 11 dossiers to Pakistan, linking some Pakistani nationals and groups to the Mumbai carnage.
During the talks, New Delhi is expected to press Islamabad to take stronger action to address its concerns over terrorist activities it says are planned and directed against Indian assets from Pakistan.
Rao is expected to ask Pakistan to speed up the trial of seven 26/11 terror attack suspects in Pakistan, take concrete action against Hafiz Saeed, the suspected mastermind of the Mumbai carnage, and against those groups with declared anti-India agenda.
The spike in cross-border infiltration and ceasefire violations will also figure in the discussions.
New Delhi has said it is going into these talks in an “exploratory mode” and “not in an accusatory mode” to work out confidence-building steps that could pave the way for a renewed full-fledged bilateral dialogue.
India is expected to ask Pakistan to pursue trust-building steps like an early meeting of the judicial committee on prisoners, enhanced commercial and economic ties and cross-border trade.
Pakistan is likely to raise the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and allegations that India was covertly aiding insurgent groups in Balochistan.
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