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India, Pakistan agree on 5-point agenda

Last updated on: February 18, 2004 17:17 IST

India and Pakistan on Wednesday agreed on a five-point agenda to initiate the composite dialogue process.

Foreign secretaries of the two nations will meet in May-June to discuss various issues, they agreed.

Both sides "agreed that they would approach the composite dialogue with sincere desire to discuss issues to arrive at peaceful solution of bilateral issues, including Jammu and KashmirÂ…" Pakistan Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokhar said after talks with his Indian counterpart Shashank in Islamabad.

Khokhar said the foreign ministers of the two countries would meet in August to review the progress.

This would be preceded by a one-day meeting of the foreign secretaries, he added.

Khokhar said both countries were committed to promote progress towards a common objective of peace, security and economic development of the people.

Enunciating the five-point agenda, he said foreign secretaries would be meeting in May-June for talks on peace and security, including confidence building measures, and Jammu and Kashmir.

Talks on Siachen, Wullar Barrage/Tulbul Navigation project, Sir Creek, terrorism and drug trafficking, economic and commercial cooperation and promotion of friendly exchanges in various fields would be held at the already agreed levels in July.

Technical level meeting between director general of Pakistan Rangers and Inspector General of Border Security Force would be held in March-April.

There would be an expert level talks on Nuclear CBMs in later half of May. This would be followed by parleys on drug trafficking and smuggling in June.

The two foreign secretaries reviewed the existing links between Director General of Military Operations of India and Pakistan and agreed to consider further strengthening of these contacts, he said.

Foreign minister of Pakistan and external affairs minister of India would be meeting in August to review overall progress. This would be preceded by a one-day meeting of foreign secretaries, Khokhar said.

To a question whether there was any proposal for holding a summit level meeting, he said, "This will be for the two foreign ministers to decide."

Referring to the joint secretary level talks between India and Pakistan, he said that they were held in a 'cordial' and good atmosphere.

To questions on the nuclear CBMs, Khokhar said a memorandum of understanding was signed between the two countries in 1999 and experts from both sides would sit together in later half of May to exchange views on the issue.

They would report the progress of their discussions to the respective foreign secretaries, he said. "We have not yet formulated our ideas on the issue and we did not go into specifics," he said.

"There is realisation on both sides that war is not an option. That itself is a very constructive conclusion. Therefore, we will explore every possibility for durable peace, security and resolution of all issues," he said.

"We hope that this roadmap will lead to the settlement of all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan and contribute to global peace," the Pakistani foreign secretary said.

On the Kashmir issue and involvement of Kashmiris in the process, Khokhar said the discussions have been 'to the satisfaction of both sides'. "We see no level of dissatisfaction... the Indian attitude has been very constructive, but we have to wait for the composite dialogue to start."

To a question on the fencing of the Line of Control by India, Khokhar said, "It is certainly not a helpful thing." The Indian side has maintained the fencing work was being carried out well inside their territory.

"The subject will come up in future discussions," the foreign secretary said.

Asked when will Islamabad grant Most Favoured Nation status to India, he said if the composite dialogue process 'makes adequate and substantive progress', then it would be for the foreign minister to make recommendation in this regard.

The subject, however, did not come up for discussion at the official level talks.

On the proposed launch of bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, he said the two sides have agreed for a technical level talks on March 9. "The question of modalities will be discussed at the technical level," he said.

Replying to a question on India's defence relations with Israel, Khokhar said though the subject was not discussed between the two foreign secretaries, 'we will find an appropriate forum to raise our concerns with whoever is relevant'.

The meeting between Director General Pakistan Rangers and Inspector General BSF, slated for March-April, would focus on border management and ways to check infiltration and smuggling, sources said.

The DGMOs, who would be further strengthening their contacts, would be discussing steps to ensure peace and security as also border management, they said.

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