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Indo-Pak foreign secys to meet in Dhaka tomorrow

By Ajay Kaul in Dhaka
July 30, 2006 19:12 IST
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India will raise the issue of continued cross-border terrorism when Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran meets his Pakistan counterpart Riyaz Mohammad Khan in Dhaka on Monday, in the first high-level contact between the two countries since the Mumbai blasts.

After the postponement of the foreign secretary-level talks, initially expected to begin on July 20, in the wake of the blasts, Saran will meet Khan on the sidelines of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation ministerial meeting and will ask what "concrete steps" Islamabad is taking to end cross-border terrorism, External Affairs Ministry sources said.

New Delhi has made it clear that forward movement on the peace process and composite dialogue will depend on practical action taken by Islamabad.

"There has to be credible demonstration by Pakistan as to what it is doing to end cross-border terrorism," a senior official said.

The official pointed out that New Delhi has already provided to Islamabad evidence about past links between Pakistan and terror activities in India and has been seeking its stoppage.

"We recently asked them (Pakistan) to take some practical steps to show that they are against terrorism as they claim. Let them act on these," he said referring to New Delhi's demand that Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin and global terrorist Dawood Ibrahim be handed over and that Lashkar-e-Tayiba chief Hafiz Mohammed Sayeed be arrested.

A meeting between Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed, who is representing India at the SAARC ministerial and Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri is also not ruled out.

Relations between India and Pakistan suffered a chill after the July 11 Mumbai blasts, which angered India as security agencies suspected Pakistani involvement in it.

Saran will be in Dhaka to attend the SAARC foreign secretary-level meeting to fine tune the agenda for the 14th SAARC Summit to be held in Delhi early in 2007.

The day-long foreign secretary level SAARC meeting will be followed by two-days foreign ministerial level meeting.

SAARC is a seven-country grouping of South Asia and comprises of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bhutan.

Afghanistan has been included as the 8th member and will be officially inducted in the regional forum at the next SAARC Summit.

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Ajay Kaul in Dhaka
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