Islamabad: Foreign ministers of India and Pakistan on Thursday met in the Pakistan capital with an aim to restore trust and increase confidence in bilateral ties, with New Delhi seeking strong action against those involved in 26/11 terror attacks, based on the inputs provided by David Headley.
External affairs minister S.M. Krishna, who arrived Islamabad on Wednesday on a three-day visit, met his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi and the two are understood to have discussed bilateral issues, including terrorism.
Both Krishna and Qureshi were accompanied by senior officials.
While foreign secretary Nirupama Rao and joint secretary in-charge of Pakistan in the ministry of external affairs Yash Sinha were part of Krishna’s team, Pakistan foreign secretary Salman Bashir and spokesman Abdul Basit were part of Qureshi’s delegation.
The talks are the second between the foreign ministers since the 2008 Mumbai attacks that left 166 people dead. They had earlier met in New York in September last year.
Krishna had on Wednesday asserted that “time has come” when Pakistan needed to act on the “overwhelming evidence” which was of “irrefutable nature” and maintained that “tirade” by jihadi leaders will not “help smoothen” the relations between the two countries.
Maintaining that the trial of seven accused in the Mumbai attacks in the Pakistani courts, including Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, was moving at a slow pace, India has made it clear that it would like to see an expeditious and successful conclusion of the trial.
Krishna’s focus on Headley assumes significance in the backdrop of comments attributed to home secretary G.K. Pillai that evidence based on his interrogation showed that ISI and LeT chief Hafiz Saeed played “a much more significant role” in Mumbai terror attacks than was thought earlier.
“I also look forward to receiving feedback on the issues raised by our home minister (P. Chidambaram) during his visit to Pakistan last month on our core concern of terrorism, particularly in the light of the discussions our home minister had in Pakistan in the context of interrogation of David Headley regarding the Mumbai terrorist attack,” Krishna said.
On Wednesday, the two foreign ministers had informal exchange of ideas at a dinner hosted by Qureshi.
Tasked by their Prime Ministers, who met in Thimphu in April, the ministers, primarily, focused on ways to bridge trust deficit and to enhance confidence by building on various humanitarian issues, including people-to-people contact, exchanges of prisoners and bilateral trade.
After his meeting with Qureshi, Krishna will call on Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari.
Before leaving for home Friday evening, the external affairs minister will meet delegations from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the Awami National Party (ANP) and the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
Earlier, foreign office spokesman Abdul Basit said there is no fixed agenda for the talks and the two ministers will discuss all issues including Kashmir, terrorism and sharing of river waters.
“Kashmir is the core issue between the two countries which should be resolved,” he said.
Basit hoped the meeting would bring positive results and prepare the ground for a sustained dialogue.