New Delhi: The foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan sat down for talks Tuesday to finalise the agenda for a meeting between the foreign ministers of the South Asian neighbours.
“We had a very good meeting in Islamabad last month and this in a sense has set the trend for the discussions today,” said Indian foreign secretary Nirupama Rao, who shook hands with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir before the talks began in Delhi.
Bashir said he looked forward to a “productive” meeting between the two ministers on Wednesday.
“I think we have every reason to be satisfied with our joint endeavours for the cause of peace and stability and for the good relations between our two countries,” Bashir said.
The Indian delegation for Tuesday’s talks is headed by Rao and includes Y.K. Sinha, joint secretary in charge of Pakistan, India’s high commissioner to Pakistan Sharat Sabharwal and other officials. The Pakistani delegation, headed by Bashir, includes Zehra H. Akbari, director general, South Asia, in Pakistan’s foreign office, Pakistan’s high commissioner to India Shahid Malik and other senior officials.
The two top diplomats are expected to firm up the details of confidence-building measures (CBMs) that are aimed at expanding travel and trade across divided Kashmir -- including an increase in the frequency of bus links connecting Srinagar and Muzaffarabad and Poonch and Rawalakot and an increase in the number of trading points across the Line of Control (LoC).
These measures are expected to be announced by Indian foreign minister S.M. Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar after their talks on Wednesday aimed at pushing forward the dialogue process.
Khar, Pakistan’s youngest and first ever woman foreign minister, will arrive in Delhi on Tuesday afternoon. India had put on hold its four-year-old dialogue with Pakistan in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. It was only in February this year that the two countries managed to agree on the content and format of discussions to resume talks. Khar’s engagements in Delhi include a meeting with Kashmiri separatists on Tuesday.
Despite problems with its neighbours, India will continue to engage them in dialogue to find a solution to disputes, defence minister A.K. Antony said separately on Tuesday.
“Even though there are problems with some of our neighbours, we will continue our dialogue process. Our hope is that through dialogue, we will be able to find a solution in the long run,” he said on the sidelines of a function to mark the 12th anniversary of the Kargil war, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.