Terrorism focus of talks with Pakistan: Rao (Lead)

February 22nd, 2010 - 10:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban London, Feb 22 (IANS) Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao Monday said India’s concern about terrorism would be its main focus at the forthcoming talks with Pakistan this week, even as she remarked that the biggest threat to peace was from the shelter afforded to terrorists in Pakistan and its border regions.
“Our core concerns about terrorism will find essential focus (at the Feb 25 talks),” Rao told reporters here at a conference organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Rao is set to meet with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir in New Delhi Thursday. This will be the first significant stand-alone official level interaction between the neighbours since India suspended the composite dialogue process after the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

India has been asking Pakistan to take action against the masterminds of the Mumbai terror attack and also to dismantle the infrastructure of terror groups operating on its soil.

“Effective action against such groups by the government of Pakistan is an absolute must,” Rao said.

While India has only one item on its agenda, Pakistan has said it will raise all issues at the meeting, including Kashmir.

“Obviously, we would like to keep the door to dialogue open,” Rao said, adding that the talks were a “sincere attempt” by India “to initiate dialogue with Pakistan”.

In her speech to the conference, Rao hoped that both countries will be able to “build, in a graduated manner, better communication and a serious and responsive dialogue to address issues of concern between our two countries.”

She pointed out that Pakistan had taken some steps under pressure and due to internal threats, “but these steps are selective”.

“Distinctions between Taliban, Al Qaeda and terrorist outfits such as LeT (Lashkar-e-Taeba) are now meaningless, since they are now in effect fused both operationally and ideologically,” said Rao.

The Indian foreign secretary pointed out that the biggest source of instability in the region came from terrorism emanating from Pakistan.

“The greatest threat to peace and stability in our region emanates from the shelter terrorists find in the border of Afghanistan-Pakistan and in Pakistan itself,” she said.

Rao cautioned the international community that recent overtures to Taliban towards reintegration should be tackled with “prudence, the benefit of hindsight, foresight and caution”.

“We believe that any integration process in Afghanistan should be Afghan-led, and should include only those who abjure violence, give up armed struggle and terrorism and are willing to abide by the values of democracy, pluralism and human rights as enshrined in the Afghan Constitution,” she asserted.

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