Menon leaves for Colombo, may meet Pakistani counterpart

February 25th, 2009 - 12:35 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 24 (IANS) The foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan are likely to meet in Colombo later this week, even though the composite dialogue between the two countries remain stalled.
Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon flew to Colombo Tuesday for the standing committee meeting of SAARC countries.

The meeting, scheduled for Feb 25-26, will firm up the agenda for the SAARC foreign ministers’ summit Feb 27-28.

Menon is likely to meet his Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir on the sidelines of the SAARC meet either Wednesday or Thursday, official sources said.

This will be the first high-level contact between the two countries since the Mumbai attacks nearly three months ago.

The meeting, government sources said, should not be seen as a resumption of the composite dialogue which, as External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said, has been paused after the Mumbai attacks.

“It will be more in the nature of civil exchanges. It’s not as though we are not on speaking terms,” the sources said.

New Delhi has asked Islamabad to “do more” to take “credible and verifiable” action to bring perpetrators of the Mumbai carnage to justice and to dismantle terror infrastructure on its soil if it wants to resume the peace process.

“So far the composite dialogue is concerned, it is paused and we expect Pakistan to do more in respect of dismantling the terror infrastructure,” Mukherjee told reporters here Tuesday when asked about the likelihood of restarting the dialogue with the neighbouring country.

Pakistan High Commissioner Shahid Malik met Menon Monday to schedule a meeting between the foreign secretaries of the two countries and also explored the possibilities of reviving the fifth round of composite dialogue that was abruptly stalled in November last year after the Mumbai attacks.

Mukherjee was scheduled to go for the 31st meeting of the SAARC council of ministers, but he is unable to go due to his domestic responsibilities, the sources said.

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