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Let’s talk, India tells Pak
Proposes foreign secy-level dialogue; Islamabad nod awaited
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 4
India has formally proposed foreign secretary-level talks to Pakistan, in what is seen as a major departure from its stand that it would not hold dialogue with Islamabad until the neighbouring nation brought to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks.

“We have proposed foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan…we will enter into discussions with an open and positive mind’’, sources said here today. India would raise all relevant issues, including counter-terrorism, which could contribute to creating an atmosphere of peace and stability between the two countries, they added.

Asked what was Delhi’s expectation from the meeting, the sources said: “Let us not prejudge the outcome of the meeting.’’ On when and where the meeting would be held, the sources said a response was awaited from Islamabad. “Once we get a response, we can decide the dates and the venue,” they added. Under pressure from the West, Delhi had already started indicating in the past few days that it could open the channels of communication with Pakistan.

External Affairs Minister SM Krishna, who was recently in London for a conference on Afghanistan, was asked by his counterparts why India was not engaging Islamabad in dialogue as it was necessary for peace not only between the two countries but the region.

The change in India’s thinking was also influenced by Islamabad’s indication of its willingness to accept Indian dossiers, including the confessional statement of Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone Pakistani terrorist caught alive during the 26/11 attacks, as evidence to prosecute the planners of the Mumbai carnage. Islamabad also accepted evidence relating to boats used to ferry the attackers from Karachi. This will be the first meeting between Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir since they met in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September last year. India had suspended the composite dialogue with Pakistan after the Mumbai attacks. The last round of the dialogue, which was launched in 2004, was held in New Delhi in July 2008 in the backdrop of the murderous suicide attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul, for which New Delhi had blamed Pakistan’s ISI.

It was not known if the meeting between the foreign secretaries would take place before or after Home Minister P Chidambaram’s visit to Islamabad for the SAARC meeting from February 26. This will be the first visit by an Indian minister to Pakistan after the then External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s visit in May 2008.




Indian guided 26/11 attackers: PC

New Delhi: The ten Pakistani terrorists who attacked Mumbai on 26/11 could have been guided by an Indian handler whose true identity was yet to be ascertained, Home Minister P Chidambaram said. “When we say he could be an Indian, he could be somebody who acquired Indian characteristics. He could have been infiltrated into India and lived here long enough to acquire an Indian accent, familiarity with Hindi words or could be somebody who went to Pakistan and was adopted by the militants there,” Chidambaram said. Refusing to speculate on the handler’s name, PC said, “We know him by Abu Jindal for many many months now... but he is not Abu Jindal. That is not his real name. We cannot put a finger who he is, unless we get a voice sample. And they won’t give us one.” — PTI



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