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India proposes Feb 18 or 25 for talks with Pak
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 7
India has proposed to Pakistan that the foreign secretary-level talks between the two countries could be held on February 18 or February 25, and a response from Islamabad is awaited, sources in the government said today.

New Delhi has also indicated to Islamabad that it was willing to discuss all issues, with focus on terrorism, while asserting that the talks could not be construed as resumption of the bilateral composite dialogue process, which was suspended following the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

Pakistan High Commissioner Shahid Malik, who met Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao on Friday, is believed to have flown to Islamabad to discuss the dates proposed by New Delhi for talks with his government.

The Indian establishment is at pains to defend its decision to invite Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir for talks in New Delhi. The view being taken by New Delhi is that Pakistan has taken some steps to address India’s demand with regard to the Mumbai attacks.

In this connection, the sources drew attention to the prosecution of seven persons in the Mumbai attacks.

New Delhi would like Pakistan to conduct their trial speedily and in a transparent manner, unravel the larger conspiracy behind the Mumbai carnage and take action against Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafeez Saeed and other such elements who freely indulge in anti-India activities.

The sources said the decision to invite the Pakistan Foreign Secretary was taken after going into all pros and cons of resuming talks with Islamabad.

From the Indian side, the focus would be on terrorism but it is prepared to discuss other subjects as well, like humanitarian, consular and trade-related issues and confidence building measures (CBMs).

On Balochistan, the sources drew attention to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s articulation that India had nothing to hide.

New Delhi has, meanwhile, taken a strong view of the anti-India speeches made by leaders of various terrorist groups, while addressing meetings in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) on the occasion of what Pakistan calls “Kashmir Solidarity Day”.

Asked what would be the fate of the dialogue if another 26/11-like terror attack were to repeat in India, the sources acknowledged that it would give a huge setback to the dialogue.



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