Pragmatic to resume talks with Pakistan: Nirupama Rao

February 10th, 2011 - 11:24 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 10 (IANS) Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao Thursday said the decision to resume dialogue with Pakistan was “very pragmatic” and not holding talks has not yielded any returns.”We have held it in both sides in abeyance for far too long. I don’t think it has created returns for either of us. I think it is a very pragmatic decision…,” Rao said in an interview to a private news channel, after New Delhi and Islamabad announced that they will resume dialogue “on all issues”.

On Thursday, the external affairs ministry issued a press release on the “Agreed Outcome” which listed four decisions taken at Nirupama Rao’s meeting with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir in Thimphu Sunday night.

Both sides “have agreed to resume dialogue on all issues following the spirit of the Thimphu meeting between the two prime ministers” (in April 2010), the release said.

This is the first time that both countries have decided to resume talks, after India suspended the Composite Dialogue following the November 2008 Mumbai terror attack, which left 166 people dead.

The Pakistani foreign minister will visit India by July “to review progress in the dialogue process with his counterpart”, the statement added.

Rao said that she was “cautiously optimistic” about the talks. “Well, India’s position is always evolving in terms of the reality that surrounds us and I think the reality is that India and Pakistan cannot afford to turn their backs to each other, that they must engage in dialogue, which is as I said serious and sustainable and comprehensive.”

Before the foreign ministers’ meeting, there will be several rounds of secretary-level talks on various subjects, including counter-terrorism - with the press release specifically mentioning that the “progress on (26/11) Mumbai trial” would be on the agenda.

The other areas which have been delineated are humanitarian issues, peace and security, including confidence-building measures, Jammu and Kashmir, promotion of friendly exchanges, Siachen, economic issues and the Wullar Barrage and Tulbul Navigation Project.

There will also be discussions on the disputed Sir Creek area in the Rann of Kutch at the level of Surveyors General or Additional Secretaries.

On the new dialogue not being designated as Composite Dialogue, Rao noted: “As I said, we are not prisoners of nomenclature and we are looking at a serious dialogue, a sustained dialogue, a comprehensive dialogue.”

She noted that “terrorism and counter-terrorism” which were of “core concern” for India, were also a matter of “deep and serious concern in Pakistan”.

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