Sharm el-Shiekh, Egypt: Foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan have met and held “good detailed discussions” on terrorism here ahead of Thursday’s meeting between Prime Ministers of the two countries to review Islamabad’s action on its commitment to bring to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks.
Foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon and his Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir held talks last night for 90 minutes during which they discussed at length issues like terrorism, the sources said, adding that they will be meeting again on Wednesday.
Sources said there is a possibility of a joint statement or a media interaction by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani after their meeting in Egypt on Thursday.
The sources said the joint media appearance by Singh and Gilani may take place after they hear from their foreign secretaries.
Menon, arriving in Egypt from Paris accompanying the Prime Minister who was the chief guest at the French National Day, is understood to have reviewed with Bashir Islamabad’s actions to bring the perpetrators of Mumbai attacks to justice and put an end to terrorism emanating from its soil against India.
The two top diplomats are believed to have discussed the progress made by Islamabad in its probe into the 26/11 strikes and the steps taken to dismantle terrorism infrastructure on its soil.
The discussions between Menon and Bashir will serve as the basis for Thursday’s meeting between Singh and Gilani.
Ahead of the meeting, external affairs minister S M Krishna on Tuesday demanded a “visible response” and undertaking from Pakistan on bringing the perpetrators of Mumbai terror attacks to justice.
Krishna told reporters that India would like a “visible response” from Pakistan whose commitment is to bring to justice the perpetrators of Mumbai attacks and the earlier attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul.
Gilani, who also arrived on Tuesday, said he will approach the meeting with Singh with an “open heart and a positive mind.”
The Pakistani premier refused to comment on the issue of the provincial government of Punjab withdrawing petitions challenging the release of JuD chief and Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Mohammed Saeed.
Menon and Bashir will report to their principals on their discussions which India wants focused on Pakistan’s action against the terrorists involved in the Mumbai attacks.
The discussions between the two top officials are also believed to have covered the flip-flop in Pakistan over the arrest and release of Saeed and the withdrawal of petitions challenging his release from the Supreme Court.
The talks come four days after Pakistan handed over a fresh dossier on its probe into the Mumbai terror attacks to India.
The dossier, handed over to the Indian high commission officials in Islamabad on Saturday, identifies 13 new suspects and gives an update on Pakistan’s investigations into the November 26 attacks.
After Singh’s disclosure on Saturday that ISI chief has met some officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, speculation has been rife about the powerful spy agency’s influence in the process of talks.
The Indian side is unwilling to hazard a guess on whether ISI will be part of the talks, saying it amounts to jumping several steps.
Singh hopes to get from Gilani a categorical commitment that the Mumbai terror accused would be quickly brought to justice and Pakistan’s soil will not be used for terror acts against India.
The Pakistani side expressed desire to return to the Composite Dialogue Process. It was of the view that India and Pakistan cannot be held hostage to one trial, apparently referring to India’s insistence on bringing Mumbai terror attacks mastermind Hafiz Mohammed Saeed to justice.