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Real, substantial issues to top agenda during Indo-Pak meet

Real, substantial issues to top agenda during Indo-Pak meet
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First Published: Fri, Feb 11 2011. 11 07 PM IST
Updated: Fri, Feb 11 2011. 11 07 PM IST
New Delhi: India will be be “talking real issues” with Pakistan when the two sides resume their peace dialogue, stalled since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, in the coming weeks and “talking to neighbours makes good sense” said foreign secretary Nirupama Rao, making her debut on the social networking site Twitter on Friday.
“We will definitely focus on substance and real issues,” she promised in another tweet, a day after India announced a reworked list of subjects that the two countries would be focusing on.
According to Rao, her Twitter presence is aimed at being able to “put (the) message out on our position on specific foreign policy issues of public interest.”
In a speech on Public Diplomacy in the Information Age in December, Rao had noted that if the Indian government’s policies “are to be well understood, we will have to interact on a real time and virtually constant basis with the media and audiences both at home and abroad.”
The use of Facebook and Twitter, YouTube and the Web 2.0 platform was important “because we also need to understand the demographics of the audiences we address – the idiom must be tailored to cater also to the language that the younger sections of our population speak,” Rao had said.
The foreign secretary’s Twitter debut comes a day after India and Pakistan announced agreement on the resumption of “dialogue on all issues,” derailed by the Mumbai attacks in which 10 gunmen attacked multiple locations in India’s commercial capital killing 166 people and wounding scores of others. In 2009, Pakistan admitted that the attackers had set sail from the southern port city of Karachi.
The breakthrough came after several failed attempts to resume dialogue last year with both sides disagreeing on the content and the format of the talks. India had insisted that talks would focus on terrorism and that Pakistan take steps to dismantle militant training camps in its territory.
The Pakistani government, on its part, said it had arrested seven people and put them on trial for plotting the Mumbai attacks. It had also sought a revival of the four-year old Composite Dialogue Process, launched in 2004, that had lowered tensions between India and Pakistan which have fought three wars since 1947, two of them over Kashmir.
“Talking real issues is what this dialogue is about. But don’t underestimate the complexity,” said Rao in one of her tweets - a pointer to the difficulties ahead.
India’s ministry of external affairs has two departments for public outreach - the external publicity division and the public diplomacy Division. The former is headed by the official spokesman for the ministry, Vishnu Prakash, and is tasked with disseminating the government’s position on various foreign policy issues.
The public diplomacy division, headed by joint secretary Navdeep Puri, is mandated with the production of print and audio-visual material that will help Indian embassies project the country’s diverse facets more effectively, and made its Twitter debut in July last year. It also has a presence on Facebook besides a YouTube channel and a Blogspot page, all under the ‘Indiandiplomacy’ title.
elizabeth.r@livemint.com
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First Published: Fri, Feb 11 2011. 11 07 PM IST