Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan will hold preparatory talks in New Delhi on Tuesday to firm up the details of confidence-building measures (CBMs) even as Pakistan offered cooperation in investigating the recent Mumbai blasts.
Accompanied by senior officials, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir arrived here on Monday night.
“Pakistan was the first to condole the blasts held in Mumbai. We can feel the pain of the victims of these blasts. Pakistan has always raised voice against terrorism and we are ready to cooperate with India in the investigation of these blasts,” Bashir said after crossing the Attari border for the talks.
Bashir was warmly received at the Attari border before he headed to New Delhi.
“I think there is no trust deficit so far as the leadership level is concerned. What we call the trust deficit has to be more clearly understood. I think, basically, the effort is to actually build greater understanding. Instead of saying trust deficit, I would say deepening of understanding,” he said.
He said the Kashmir issue will figure in the discussions.
“Both the nations before this have had home secretary level talks and Kashmir has been the part of the talks. And in this foreign minister level meeting to be held in Delhi, Kashmir issue will be a part.”
“This is going to be a full spectrum dialogue and both nations are expected to talk on a wide range of issues. All important issues that matter for both the countries will be discussed and we hope that best of results come out,” Bashir said when asked about the priorities at the forthcoming talks.
“I am happy to be here for the Foreign Ministry level meeting”, he added.
Bashir will hold talks with his Indian counterpart Nirupama Rao on a wide range of bilateral issues with a view to firming up the agenda for talks between External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar on Wednesday.
Khar, Pakistan’s first woman foreign minister and the youngest to occupy the post, arrives in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Rao and Bashir, who will be meeting after a month, are expected to review the entire gamut of bilateral issues and firm up deliverables that will be unveiled by the foreign ministers on Wednesday.
An increase in the frequency of cross-Kashmir bus links between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad and Poonch and Rawalakot, an increase in the number of trading days across the Line of Control (LoC), and opening of more trading points are expected to be the tangible outcomes of talks.
Also to be discussed, sources said, would be measures to liberalise the visa regime though there may not be any immediate agreement on this.
After the talks between the foreign ministers, the two sides will announce a slew of CBMs aimed at lowering barriers to expanded trade and travel across the two divided halves of Kashmir.
Ahead of the talks, both sides have struck a positive tone, but are keen not to raise the expectations.
India will raise the issue of ISI’s link with Kashmiri separatism and emphasise the need for “an atmosphere free from terror” for meaningful talks. New Delhi will also seek to expand the scope of dialogue by including new people-centric areas of cooperation like agriculture, health and telecommunications.
India is ready to discuss “all issues with an open mind”, and will push for speedy justice for victims of the 26/11 Mumbai carnage, a government source said in New Delhi.
At the meeting of Home Minister P Chidambaram and his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik on the sidelines of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) security in Thimphu over the weekend, India reiterated its request to Pakistan for the voice samples of the seven Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) terrorists accused of masterminding the November 26-29, 2008 attack.
An investigating team from Pakistan will soon be visiting Mumbai to question witnesses of the terror strike.
The meeting between the foreign ministers marks the high point of the peace process India resumed with Pakistan in February after an over two-year hiatus following the 26/11 terror spree that was perpetrated and masterminded by Pakistani terrorists and elements from across the border.
In Islamabad, Khar asserted that Pakistan would not accept the hegemony of any country in the region as it is “by no means inferior to India”, but sought to keep a positive tone ahead of her major foreign policy foray since she became the foreign minister over a week ago. Zeenews