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Indo-Pak foreign ministerial talks on Friday

Source: PTI
June 23, 2008 19:17 IST
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In the backdrop of Pakistan's readiness for "grand reconciliation" on outstanding issues, the foreign ministers of the two countries will meet in Delhi this week to take the peace process forward and discuss ways to bring about "full normalisation" in their ties.

Terrorism, Kashmir and various confidence building measures are expected to figure prominently in the talks that External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will have with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi during the latter's three-day visit from Friday.

The talks, marking second high-level contact between India and the new Pakistan government in a month, will focus on ways to take forward the peace process and dialogue process and are expected to consider various proposals in this regard.

After his talks with Mukherjee in Islamabad last month, Qureshi had said Pakistan is willing for "grand reconciliation" on outstanding issues, which need to be resolved through dialogue with "self respect and dignity".

On Kashmir specifically, he had said Pakistan is ready for "innovative ideas" to resolve the vexed issue even though Islamabad wants the matter to be addressed through UN resolutions and taking aspirations of Kashmiris into consideration.

In the backdrop of these statements, the foreign ministers will be discussing ways to resolve the issue during the upcoming talks.

At the talks, the two sides are expected to consider various CBMs, including launch of truck service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad and opening of more routes for cross-Line of Control bus service.

While India maintains that CBMs are crucial steps for improving bilateral relations, Pakistan wants the engagement to go beyond confidence building measures and focus on "dispute resolutions".

Mukherjee and Qureshi are expected to discuss terrorism and explore possibilities of collaboration in fighting the problem.

Significantly, the new Pakistan government has started acknowledging terrorism as a "common menace" for the two countries and voiced the need for working together to fight it.

India has been for long trying to convince Pakistan that terrorism is a problem for the two countries and both should fight it.

Prior to the foreign ministerial talks, the ATM will meet in Islamabad on Tuesday during which the Indian side is expected to furnish evidence about cross-border linkages to various terror incidents, including Ajmer and Hyderabad bomb blasts.

This will be the third meeting of the mechanism, set up in November 2006 in the aftermath of serial blasts in Mumbai trains.

Qureshi is also expected to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Leader of Opposition Lal Kishenchand Advani during his three-day stay here.

He will also travel to Ajmer, Jaipur and Chandigarh.

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