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Indo-Pak talks to restart next month

Source: PTI
March 07, 2008 21:49 IST
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With the democratically-elected government set to assume office in Pakistan, the bilateral dialogue process, stalled due to disturbances in Pakistan last year, is expected to resume next month with the Foreign Secretary-level talks.

Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon is likely to travel to Islamabad to hold talks with his counterpart to wind up the fourth round of Composite Dialogue. The two sides are working out exact dates for the talks between the Foreign Secretaries.
The Foreign Secretary-level talks were to be held at the end of the fourth round of composite dialogue in October, but could not take place as Emergency was imposed in Pakistan, leading to turmoil in the country.

At the meeting, the two sides will review the progress made in the fourth round of composite dialogue and set the timetable for the fifth round.

India has maintained that it is waiting for the new government to take office in Pakistan, after which the talks will be scheduled to take the dialogue process forward.

"Immediately after installation of a new government in Pakistan, the Foreign Secretaries will complete the fourth round of composite dialogue, after which we will launch the fifth round. We will have to wait till a regular government is in place in Pakistan," External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had said some time back.

Pointing out that bilateral relations had moved forward, including in trade sector, he said normal work between the two countries could not be carried out because of 'certain circumstances' in Pakistan recently.

Last week, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the Parliament that India was ready to restart dialogue with Pakistan and hoped that the new leadership there will work with New Delhi in putting the past behind for enduring peace and collective prosperity of the two countries.

Singh said he saw a ray of hope as he noted that the leaders of the main political parties of Pakistan, in their first pronouncements after the elections, had spoken of their interest in developing close relations and working with India to bring about durable peace.

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