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November 4, 1998


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India will raise Pak's involvement in terrorism and Siachen at New Delhi talks

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India will provide to Pakistan concrete evidence of Islamabad's involvement in acts of terrorism on Indian soil and also negotiate ways to end cross-border firing at the Siachen glacier when the two countries begin ''composite and integrated'' talks on six outstanding issues, in New Delhi tomorrow.

The six issues to be discussed by the two countries are: Tulbul navigation project (November 5), Siachen (November 6), Sir Creek (November 9), economic and commercial cooperation (November 10), terrorism and drug trafficking (November 12) and promotion of friendly exchanges in various fields (November 13).

The foreign secretaries of the two countries had met in Islamabad from October 15 to 18 to discuss the other two issues: Jammu and Kashmir and peace and security, including Confidence Building Measures. The eight outstanding issues were identified by the two countries during the foreign secretary level talks in June 1997.

Indian officials in the capital say they are approaching the talks with sincerity and with the intent of establishing with the neighbouring country a relationship based on trust and confidence.

In order to create a congenial atmosphere for the upcoming talks, India on Monday announced that it was releasing immediately all the 148 Pakistani fishermen, languishing in Indian jails after they strayed into Indian waters while fishing. Pakistan had made a similar announcement in September.

India has always held the view that the relations between the two countries should not be held hostage to any one single issue while Pakistan says the ties could not become normal unless the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir is resolved.

However, the very fact that Pakistan has agreed to talk on other issues indicates a slight change in Islamabad's stance.

The main focus during the talks will be on the issues of Siachen and terrorism and drug trafficking.

The talks on Siachen are being held at a time when there are reports that Pakistan has made at least two abortive bids to capture the glacier. The two sides, which had last discussed the issue in November 1992, are expected to find ways and means to end the firing in Siachen.

Meanwhile, India has denied the Pakistani charge that it had resiled from any agreement between the two sides on Siachen. ''India does not resile from agreements...This country respects all the agreements,'' a senior external affairs ministry official said.

The involvement of the notorious Inter-Service Intelligence of Pakistan in various acts of subversion and terrorism in this country will be highlighted by the Indian side during the discussion on terrorism and drug trafficking.

India also expects progress in the discussions between the two sides on purchasing power from Pakistan. ''The ball is now in Pakistan's court... India is very serious about the matter,'' the official said. He said India was prepared to hold technical level talks with Pakistan on the purchase of power in New Delhi or Islamabad, wherever the other side desired.

India also desires good economic and commercial relations with Pakistan. New Delhi has already granted the most favoured nation status to Pakistan and hopes Islamabad will reciprocate the gesture soon.

The talks are being held amid reports that the much talked about bus service from New Delhi to Lahore will begin soon.

Senior officials from the two countries will lead their respective delegations at the talks on the six issues.

On the Tulbul navigation project issue to be discussed on November 5, the Indian side will be headed by water resources secretary Z Hasan and the Pakistani side by his counterpart Syed Shahid Hussain. The Pakistani delegation will also include an army officer of the rank of brigadier.

The Siachen issue on November 6 will be dealt with by defence secretary Ajit Kumar and his Pakistani counterpart Lt Gen (retd) Ifteqar Ali Khan. Senior officials from the defence and foreign ministries of the two countries and their high commissioners will also be present.

The Sir Creek issue will come up on November 9 and will be discussed by India's surveyor general Lt Gen A K Ahuja and Jameel Akhtar, additional secretary in the Pakistan defence ministry.

Commerce secretary P P Prabhu will lead the Indian delegation at the talks on economic and commercial cooperation on November 10 while his Pakistani counterpart Mian Iqbal Farid will head his country's team.

Home secretary B P Singh will negotiate with his Pakistani counterpart Hafizullah Ishad in talks on terrorism and drug trafficking on November 12.

The issue of promotion of friendly exchanges in various fields will be discussed on November 13 by culture secretary R V V Ayyer and his Pakistani counterpart Syed Roshan Jameel.


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