M A I N   N E W S

Trust deficit clouds Indo-Pak talks
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 24
Pessimism was palpable in both Indian and Pakistani camps on the eve of Foreign Secretary-level talks between the two countries with the two sides not hopeful of any breakthrough at the first official dialogue between them after more than 14 months.

Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir arrived here this evening at the head of a five-member delegation for a crucial meeting with his Indian counterpart Nirupama Rao at 11 am tomorrow at the majestic Hyderabad House.

Ahead of the talks, Pakistan sought to again hijack the agenda by seeking discussions on all issues that have hamstrung relations between the two countries. India, however, asserted that the talks would focus on the issue of terrorism.

Sources in the Indian establishment said New Delhi was going into the talks with an open mind, fully conscious of the limitation imposed by the trust deficit after the Mumbai terror attacks. However, India was not prejudging the outcome of the talks.

The sources said that given the complexities involved, India would use the opportunity to clear the air as much as possible and seek to take a first step, even if small, towards opening the possibility of future dialogue.

In a clear indication of the approach the two sides would adopt at the talks, the sources said no joint statement was contemplated after the meeting tomorrow. The two sides will hold separate press briefings. The Pakistani delegation is also scheduled to call on External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon.

In a brief statement on his arrival, Bashir said he was happy to be back in India. “I have come here to bridge the differences. I am hopeful of a positive outcome.” However, it was his statement made in Islamabad before leaving for New Delhi that reflected Pakistan’s intention to raise issues like Kashmir and water at the talks. Bracketing the issue of terrorism with talks would be counter-productive since terrorism was an international issue and not an issue restricted to India and Pakistan, he said.

Foreign Minister Krishna set the tone for the meeting by explaining what India expected of Pakistan and making it clear that the talks did not amount to continuation of the composite dialogue process.

“The proposed talks will focus essentially on India’s core concerns regarding terrorism. It is the government’s persistently expressed position that it is necessary to have an environment free of terror or threat of terror if relations between the two countries are to move forward concretely and meaningfully,” he said in reply to a question in Parliament.






Pak admits 26/11 launched from its soil

The Centre today said Pakistan has acknowledged and admitted that the 26/11 attacks were launched from its soil.

“Pakistan acknowledged and admitted on February 12, 2009, that the attack on Mumbai on November 26, 2008 was planned and launched from Pakistan,” External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said in reply to a query in Lok Sabha.

“In its dossier of July 11 last year, Pakistan also acknowledged that substantial evidence had been unearthed,” he added. On the India-Pakistan Foreign Secretary level talks, the Minister said the talks were not continuation of the dialogue



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |