INDO-PAK TALKS OPEN WITH ‘OPTIMISM’
Foreign Secretaries Discuss CBMs, Kashmir On Table Today
Islamabad, June 23: With “optimism” and “an open mind,” the Indian and Pakistani foreign secretaries Thursday began two-day talks here to bridge the trust deficit, which touched a new low after then 26/11 attack, by focusing on peace and security and confidence-building measures on Kashmir.
“All aspects relating to peace and security have been discussed and terrorism is an issue confronting both the countries and of course its very relevant to peace and security,” official spokesperson Vishnu Prakash in the Ministry of External Affairs said.
“They also exchanged views on all issues relevant to peace and security including CBMs that exist between the two countries. A number of ideas were discussed and reflected upon. The talks were substantive, held in very cordial atmosphere and were forward looking,” said Pakistani foreign office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua.
The talks between Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir have been divided into three segments.
The two top diplomats Thursday held discussions on peace and security and CBMs across the Line of Control in Kashmir. The second and third round of talks on Jammu and Kashmir and promotion of friendly exchanges will take place here Friday.
Both Rao and Bashir struck notes of cautious optimism as they first held restricted talks before they were joined by their delegations.
Welcoming the Indian side, Bashir stressed that they were approaching the talks with a “great sense of confidence, optimism and determination.” “We wish to engage with you in not only walking the trajectory but also exploring new avenues further,” he said.
Rao agreed, saying this was an “apt” statement.
Bashir added that this was an important point in the relationship and will also help the two sides prepare the agenda for the meeting of the two foreign ministers in the near future.
Rao, on her part, said that “we have a clear agenda in front of us for discussions” and noted that there have been good meetings in the past few months. “We are approaching these talks with an open and constructive mind,” she said.
During her three-day stay in Islamabad, Rao will call on Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. She returns to India Saturday afternoon.
The two-day talks are expected to set the stage for the meeting of the foreign ministers in New Delhi.
Rao is expected to convey India’s disappointment with the slow progress in the trial in Pakistan of those suspected to be behind the Nov 26-29, 2008 Mumbai that claimed the lives of 166 people, including some foreigners.
The two sides are also expected to discuss nuclear CBMs.
This is the first high-level engagement between the two estranged neighbours since Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hosted his counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani at the World Cup semi-final in Mohali March 30.
In February, the two countries decided to resume talks on all bilateral issues, reviving the dialogue process that was frozen in the wake of 26/11 Mumbai attack. Since then, the defence, interior and commerce secretaries have met in the last few months.
Rao touched down here in the morning and stressed that the talks aimed at an eventual normalisation of relations.
“I have come to Pakistan with an open mind and a constructive spirit in order to work towards building trust and confidence in our relationship, thereby leading to an eventual normalisation of relations for the well-being and prosperity of our peoples,” Rao said in her arrival statement.
She said her’s was an important visit as it marks the penultimate leg of the resumed dialogue process before the Pakistani foreign minister reaches India next month.
Rao said the discussions would include “peace and security, including confidence building measures, Jammu and Kashmir and promotion of friendly exchanges”.
“I bring with me the best wishes of the people and the government of India for the people and government of Pakistan. We wish to see a stable, peaceful and prosperous Pakistan,” she said.
While India has called for patience while dealing with Pakistan, Gilani has said that “core issues”, including Kashmir, needed to be discussed.
At the same time, Gilani has underscored the need for increased trade as well as people-to-people contacts.
On Wednesday, he said that the future of Pakistan was closely linked with the resolution of the Kashmir dispute.
In New Delhi, the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), upped the ante on the Kashmir issue and warned the government against making any compromise on it. BJP leader LK Advani threatened to launch a mass demonstration if the government went in for a settlement of the Kashmir issue with Pakistan.
LOOKING FOR FORWARD MOVEMENT: PAK
Meanwhile, Pakistan Thursday said it was looking for “forward movement” in the ongoing Foreign Secretary-level talks with India, hoping that the two countries would not get caught in the status quo mode.
“When you have long-standing issues, there is a great sense of responsibility with it and seriousness of approach. Pakistan has had consistent stand that it is better to talk than not to talk,” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani told reporters responding to questions on the Indo-Pak Foreign Secretary-level meeting here.
“It is better to resolve long-standing issues rather than let those issues fester and become larger than life and affect development and peace of the region,” she said.
On the ongoing Indo-Pak talks here, Rabbani said “we are looking for forward movement and I think as long as we have some forward movement to report back which we had from Interior Ministers’ and other meetings so far, we should be somewhat happy with the outcome.
“What we don’t want is to get caught in the status quo mode where we just reiterate our positions. Hopefully, this meting will give us more confidence to move forward.”
When pointed out that there was a conflict over the issues of core concerns between the two countries with India calling terrorism as its prime concern and Pakistan sticking to Jammu and Kashmir, Rabbani said “both can meet if both agree that terrorism and Jammu and Kashmir are the core concerns.”
“If Kashmir is not core concern, then what is core concern?” Rabbani asked. “Terrorism is not only the core concern for India and Pakistan, rather for Afghanistan and entire region,” she said. “We are willing to address our core concerns and the concerns of others.”
She advocated the need for moving away from the stated positions and adopting a pragmatic approach if the two sides want to talk like responsible neighbours who want to live in peace.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 23 Jun 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 23 Jun 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 24 Jun 2011 00:00:00 IST
- MORE FROM FRONTPAGE
- 108 youth to return from PaK
- INDO-PAK TALKS OPEN WITH ‘OPTIMISM’
- Relaxed visa regime on cards
- China supportive of dialogue
- Resolve Kashmir: UN to India, Pak
- Separatists welcome
- Can’t give jobs to all: Omar
- 8 civil, 43 police officers shifted
- Vaid, Doley, Navin promoted as ADGPs
- BSF-Rangers mull joint border patrolling
- Ms Halcrow offers consulting services
- 2 militants killed in gunfights
‘GOVT PROMOTING IMMORALITY’
Srinagar, June 23: Chairman of Hurriyat Conference (G) Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Thursday said he was not against the India-Pakistan dialogue but talks won’t prove fruitful until India accepts the ‘hard More
- Srinagar City
Srinagar, June 23: The unchecked entry of visitors into Government Medical College (GMC) associated hospitals in the City has been affecting the healthcare facilities there, medicos complained. According More
ARIF SHAFI WANI
Mansar (Poonch), June 23: A long awaited project to connect Kashmir with outside world through historic Mughal Road is up against a challenge of different kind this time. If it was inordinate delay on More
Srinagar: German Ambassador to India, Thomas Matussek today met the Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah here and discussed various matters including those related to socio-economic and political developments More
GK NEWS NETWORK
Srinagar, June 23: To discuss the applicability of the Central Warehousing Act-2007 in the interest of farmers and other stake holders in Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Secretary, Madhav Lal today held a meeting More
- For Contributors