India plays cautious, says talks with Pakistan on (Lead)

July 14th, 2011 - 8:56 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram New Delhi/Mumbai, July 14 (IANS) Despite the Mumbai blasts, India said Thursday the foreign minister-level talks with Pakistan will take place later this month as it tactfully kept silent on whether the terror strikes were a tactic to derail the revived peace process between the two neighbours.

“They are (on schedule). There is no change in the scheduled visits of (United States) Secretary of State (Hillary) Clinton or the foreign minister of Pakistan,” External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna told reporters in New Delhi when asked whether the India-Pakistan foreign minister-level talks will take place later this month.

India also scrupulously avoided making any insinuation about the the involvement of Pakistan-based elements in the attacks, indicating a resolve to continue the re-engagement process it started with Pakistan in the teeth of much domestic opposition.

New Delhi is treading cautiously, refraining from making any hasty conclusions about who could be behind Mumbai terrorist attack as the India-Pakistan foreign minister level dialogue is slated to be held in New Delhi on July 26.

Intelligence agencies launched a probe into serial terror blasts in Mumbai Wednesday evening that killed 17 people and injured over 130, saying no angle can be ruled out.

“I do agree that the Indo-Pak talks will be held this month, in ten days from now. We are not ruling out any angle. We will probe every angle,” Home Minister P. Chidambaram told reporters in Mumbai to queries whether the blasts were an attempt to derail the India-Pakistan talks.

“India has made it clear time and again, an atmosphere free of violence is a necessity for talking the bilateral ties forward. That is the general position,” he added.

He added that India was living in the “most troubled neighbourhood” as Pakistan and Afghanistan are the “epicentre” of terrorism.

Both Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani have condemned the blasts in Mumbai.

Early this week, Pakistan’s foreign office said Minister of State for External Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, who is widely tipped to be the next foreign minister, will be coming to New Delhi for the talks.

The blasts also took place a few days before Clinton comes to India Monday for the second India-US strategic dialogue July 19-20.

After restarting their peace process in February this year, the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan held talks in Islamabad last month and agreed on some cross-Kashmir and nuclear confidence-building measures to bridge post-26/11 trust deficit.

The Islamabad meeting has prepared the ground the talks between the two foreign ministers.

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