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India, Pakistan likely to change format for dialogue

Source: PTI
August 30, 2005 14:47 IST
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India and Pakistan may consider a changed format to carry forward the dialogue process at the foreign secretary-level talks in Islamabad on September 1. A fortnight later, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf will meet in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly elections.

Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran will leave for Islamabad on Wednesday on a three-day visit for talks with his Pakistani counterpart, Riaz Muhammad Khan. The meeting had earlier been scheduled for August 17, on the sidelines of the SAARC Standing Committee meet but was postponed due to the assassination of Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar in Colombo.

According to sources, this will essentially be a stock-taking exercise on the current status of India-Pakistan ties and a "wrap-up" of the second round of the Composite Dialogue process. They will also outline a course to move forward the dialogue process. The second round had been initiated by the two foreign secretaries last December in Islamabad and meetings have been held on the five points since this May.

Ahead of his meeting, Saran said there has been "noticeable progress" in some of the issues discussed under the composite dialogue framework. "So, perhaps, the composite dialogue will still need to be carried on in future but in somewhat of a changed format," he said.

He added that no decisions have been taken yet on this issue. "I think we really need to have a fuller exchange of views in Islamabad when I am there," he said. 

During talks, the Indian side is likely to press for speedy hand-over of fugitives taking shelter in Pakistan and raise the issue of release of civilian and other prisoners. The handing over of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim has already been taken up with Islamabad but Pakistan has maintained that he is not staying in that country. 

The home secretaries of the two countries have also held extensive discussions on terrorism and drug trafficking.

As part of the ongoing high-level meetings, External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh will meet his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid M Kasuri in Islamabad on October 4.

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