Foreign Secretaries to pave way for dialogue
REZAUL H LASKAR\PTI
Islamabad, Jan 8: The Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan will meet on the sidelines of SAARC Council of Ministers meeting in Bhutan early next month to explore ways to take forward the stalled peace process.
Pakistan will decide on accepting India's standing invitation for Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to visit New Delhi after assessing the outcome of the meeting of the Foreign Secretaries in Thimphu in February, sources in the Pakistan government told PTI.
In a brief statement issued this afternoon, Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said the Foreign Secretaries "will meet on the margins of the SAARC Standing Committee meeting scheduled to take place in Thimphu" during February 6-7. The statement did not give any other details.
The sources said Pakistan had decided to accept an Indian proposal for talks between the Foreign Secretaries.
Foreign Minister Qureshi, who was invited to New Delhi by his Indian counterpart S M Krishna in July last year, has said he will go ahead with the visit only if it results in "substantial, meaningful and result-oriented talks."
The visit was originally scheduled for November last year but was put off due to the ongoing chill in bilateral ties. Foreign Office spokesman Basit told the media yesterday that Pakistan is willing to engage in talks with India but an agenda should first be chalked out by the Foreign Secretaries.
India suspended the composite dialogue process in the wake of the Mumbai attacks in November 2008.
The assault on India's financial hub was blamed on Pakistan-based Lashker-e-Taiba. Since then, India has linked the resumption of the peace process to Pakistan taking action against the alleged perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks.
The upcoming meeting of the two Foreign Secretaries will be the first one since September last year, when they met in New York on the margins of the UN General Assembly session but were unable to make any headway in their talks.
Pakistan has been insisting on a roadmap for future engagements on issues like the Kashmir issue, the military stand-off on the Siachen glacier and differences on the sharing of river waters.
India has indicated it favours a phased approach, with terrorism being among the top priorities. During a news conference yesterday, External Affairs Minister Krishna renewed his invitation for Qureshi to visit New Delhi.
The two Foreign Ministers last met in Islamabad in July last year but their talks ended inconclusively.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 8 Jan 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 8 Jan 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 9 Jan 2011 00:00:00 IST
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