Pranab talks to Pakistan’s Qureshi, hopes for early talks

April 3rd, 2008 - 9:47 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, April 3 (IANS) External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has congratulated his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi on taking up office and expressed the hope that India and Pakistan would resume their composite dialogue soon. Mukherjee rang up Qureshi Wednesday night and congratulated him on his election and appointment as Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, external affairs spokesperson Navtej Sarna told reporters Thursday.

“In their telephonic conversation last night, it was agreed that meetings under the Composite Dialogue framework would resume at an early date,” Sarna said.

India and Pakistan are likely to resume later this month their composite dialogue that includes, among other issues, Jammu and Kashmir, peace and security and confidence-building measures.

Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, a former Indian envoy to Pakistan, is likely to travel to Islamabad later this month to review the progress of the fourth round of composite dialogue with his Pakistani counterpart Riaz Mohammad Khan. The two sides will launch the fifth round of composite dialogue after the foreign secretary-level review of the last round.

It will be followed by a visit by Pranab Mukherjee to Islamabad in May or June.

Qureshi has set a positive tone for the peace process, saying Pakistan wants “friendly relations with India” and there are “signals of reciprocity” from the other side.

In his first remarks on the peace process with India after becoming the foreign minister, Qureshi also sought a “just and equitable” resolution to the contentious Kashmir issue.

The Cambridge-educated politician stressed that regional and economic security, national defence and a “just” resolution of the Kashmir issue will be among his top priorities as foreign minister of Pakistan.

He said the dialogue would be restarted with the formation of the new coalition government led by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

Last week, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh congratulated Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani on taking up office and expressed hope that India-Pakistan relations can evolve to become the “best ever” in their history.

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