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Saran ready for Pak visit

Source: PTI
December 24, 2004 18:19 IST
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Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran arrives in Pakistan tomorrow, two days ahead of commencement of the crucial second round of the composite dialogue process to discuss Kashmir and seven other issues.

Saran would arrive in Lahore with a high-level Indian delegation tomorrow and would immediately leave for Peshawar, the capital of North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

The foreign Secretary would be in Peshawar tomrrow night and on Sunday to hold meetings with a number of local officials and leaders, including those of Awami National Party (ANP), which was founded by Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, also known as Frontier Gandhi.

He will arrive in Islamabad on Sunday evening from Peshawar for two-day talks with his Pakistani counterpart Riaz Khokar, beginning from Monday, officials said.

The two Foreign Secretaries would formally kickstart the second round of the composite dialogue process.

As per the composite dialogue structure, the Foreign Secretaries would be discussing Jammu and Kashmir, Peace and Security and Confidence Building Measures (CBMS).

They would also fix a schedule for official-level talks on six other issues -- Siachen, Wullar Barrage, Sir Creek, Narcotics and Drug Trafficking, Economic and Commercial Cooperation and Promotion of Friendly Exchanges in various fields.

The first round of the talks on all issues including Jammu and Kashmir, held in the middle of this year, have not yielded much progress.

The two foreign secretaries are expected to work out viable modalities for both the countries to run a bus service connecting both sides of Kashmir.

The two countries are currently deadlocked over the documents to be carried by the passengers to travel by the bus.

While India has agreed to do away with visas and insists on passports and travel permits, Pakistan wants to do away with passports as well.

Informally, the two officials also are expected to discuss solutions to overcome differences on the construction of a hydro-electric dam being built by India at Baglihar in Jammu and Kashmir over river Chenab.

Pakistan claims that the construction of dam is violation of the 1960 Indus Water Treaty. India firmly denies it.

India has provided additional data wanted by Pakistan and the two countries could agree for another round of talks at the Water Secretaries' level, failing which Pakistan said it would approach the World Bank to appoint neutral experts for arbitration.

The Foreign Secretary-level talks are expected to be followed by a meeting between Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Shaukat Aziz on the sidelines of the SAARC summit in Dhaka in the second week of January.


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