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Dixit, Aziz hold secret talks in Delhi
Rajeev Sharma and Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 10
National Security Adviser J.N. Dixit and his Pakistani counterpart Tariq Aziz held secret talks today to prepare the roadmap of the next round of composite dialogue process between the two countries, The Tribune has learnt.

The Dixit-Aziz talks were continuing at a secret location till the time of writing of this report, well-informed sources said.

There was no official confirmation of the hush-hush meeting either from the Government of India or the Pakistan High Commission here, the latter expressing total ignorance about Mr Aziz’s presence in India.

It is learnt that Mr Aziz entered through the Wagah border in Amritsar yesterday and from there took a flight to New Delhi.

It is understood that British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw had given a non-paper on Kashmir problem to the Indian and Pakistani leaderships when he visited the subcontinent in the first week of February this year.

In diplomatic parlance, a “non-paper” is used when a government is conveying a point to other government/governments or state actors while keeping nothing on record.

It is learnt that Mr Straw’s non-paper pertained to operational aspects of the Indian proposal of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service and flag-marked some other Kashmir-related issues.

The Dixit-Aziz talks assume a lot of significance as the two NSAs will choreograph not only the next round of composite dialogue but also decide the talking points between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf when they meet on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York later this month.

Mr Aziz is General Musharraf’s close confidant and Secretary of National Council, while Mr Dixit has been given full mandate by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for these talks.

Dr Manmohan Singh and President Musharraf are scheduled to hold talks on September 22 on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly Session in New York. Both India and Pakistan are keen on some substantive developments from the first-ever meeting between Dr Manmohan Singh and General Pervez Musharraf.

This is the third meeting between Mr Dixit and Mr Aziz, the first one being in Amritsar a few months ago (just before the recently concluded round of composite dialogue process began) and then another one was held in Dubai.

There was specific movement on the Kashmir issue between the two sides as a result of the talks between Mr Dixit and Mr Aziz.

Incidentally, the two were to first meet in London almost two weeks ago, but the meeting was apparently postponed in view of the meeting between Foreign Minister K. Natwar Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri which concluded here just two days ago.

This meeting was postponed at Mr Kasuri’s behest who insisted that Mr Aziz should meet Mr Dixit only after his return from India. Mr Aziz had a briefing from Mr Kasuri before coming here on a covert mission.

The talks between Mr Dixit and Mr Aziz are also important from the point of view as India thinks there is a need to think beyond established positions on Kashmir.

Mr Aziz is known for his diplomatic efforts in the Indo-Pak talks. He had earlier also held meetings with former National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra paving the way for the landmark Vajpayee-Musharraf meeting in Islamabad on the sidelines of the 12th SAARC summit in January earlier this year.

They had also played a vital role in preparing the famous joint statement on the Vajpayee-Musharraf meeting issued on January 6 last as a result of which the composite dialogue started between the two countries.

The meetings which Mr Aziz has held with his Indian counterparts have been kept away from the publicity blitz as both countries feel that foreign policy cannot be conducted under the media glare.

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