Krishna’s Pakistan visit deferred, secretary-level talks next week (Lead)

June 26th, 2012 - 7:00 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 26 (IANS) With the Indian presidential elections scheduled for July 19 and the ongoing political churn in Pakistan, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna’s visit to Islamabad, which was planned for mid-July, is now expected to take place towards August-end.

However, the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan will stick to their planned engagement and hold talks here July 4-5.

Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and his Pakistani counterpart Jalil Abbas Jilani will hold talks on peace and security, including confidence-building measures, and Jammu and Kashmir, marking the final stage of the second round of the dialogue process which was revived only last February after a long hiatus following the 26/11 Mumbai attack.

The talks will take place in the shadow of the arrest of an Indian 26/11 accused and his links with Pakistani terrorists, renewing the focus on expediting justice for the Mumbai terror victims.

Abu Jindal Hamza was arrested at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here June 21 after his deportation from Saudi Arabia. Hamza, according to intelligence sources, was one of six people who were holed up in a “control room” in Karachi and directed the audacious Mumbai attack by 10 Pakistani terrorists in November 2008. The carnage left 166 people dead.

The foreign secretary talks will be followed by the talks between foreign minsters of India and Pakistan in Islamabad, which will focus on reviewing the achievements of the dialogue process and to map the way forward.

Krishna was expected to go to Islamabad around mid-July, but the dates which were discussed earlier clashed with the Indian presidential election scheduled for July 19.

The political turmoil in Pakistan last week, which was triggered by the apex court’s disqualification of Yousaf Raza Gilani as the prime minister and the election of his successor, also seems to have influenced the decision to postpone Krishna’s visit.

“We are working on new dates. Other developments have taken place since then,” Syed Akbaruddin, the external affairs ministry’s spokesperson, told reporters here when asked about the reasons behind the postponement of Krishna’s visit.

The spokesperson added that when the two sides had discussed the dates for the visit earlier, the dates for the presidential elections had not been announced. The external affairs minister is part of the electoral college for the election of the president, he said.

He indicated that the visit will now take place after the monsoon session of parliament which is expected to end in the third week of August. “We are looking at dates in August,” Akbaruddin said.

He, however, added that one should not read too much into the postponement of the visit and stressed that it was primarily due to scheduling issues. “It’s not reflective of substantive problems,” he said.

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