M A I N   N E W S

Pak Foreign Secy arrives, talks to separatists first
Krishna says Pak should do more on terrorism front
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, July 3
Islamabad once again upset India on the eve of an important bilateral engagement as Pakistan Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani held parleys with Kashmiri separatist leaders before Foreign Secretary-level talks between the two countries tomorrow.

In a clear message to Islamabad, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna told reporters on his way back from Tajikistan that it was "a matter of regret that (26/11 mastermind Hafiz) Saeed was moving freely in Pakistan. "Pakistan has to do more on terrorism...But the issue of progress on terrorism has not held the dialogue process to ransom," he said.

Jilani, who arrived here today, will lead the Pakistani delegation while the Indian side will be headed by Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai at the two-day talks. The two top diplomats will discuss peace and security, including confidence building measures (CBMs), Kashmir and promotion of friendly exchanges.

Talking to the media on his arrival here, Jilani sought to create a positive environment, emphasising that he had brought a message of goodwill, peace and prosperity from the people and the government of Pakistan.

''I am looking forward to a very constructive dialogue with my counterpart. I have been mandated by the leadership to move this peace process forward,'' he said while being received by YK Singh, Joint Secretary (Pakistan) in the External Affairs Ministry and senior officials of the Pakistan High Commission.

He said Pakistan would want India to share with Islamabad details of the investigation of Abu Jundal, a key plotter of the Mumbai attack. ''Pakistan would support India in its fight against terrorism... criminals are criminals in Pakistan and in India. We condemn any terrorist act,'' he said.

New Delhi, however, does not seem prepared to share all investigation details, though it might hand over a dossier providing passport details and other factual information about Jundal to the Pakistani side.

Despite all the positive noises he made upon his arrival, Jilani sought to put the Kashmir issue on the front-burner in no uncertain manner by holding back-to-back meetings with Kashmiri separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik at the Pakistani High Commission.

''Pakistan should press India hard to resolve the Kashmir issue," Geelani told reporters after the meeting.

Though it was nothing new since Pakistani leaders and officials have always consulted separatists ahead of talks with India at any level, New Delhi reacted sharply, saying such actions by Islamabad had the potential to vitiate the atmosphere.

''Holding such meetings with separatists even before talks between the two countries would serve no purpose,'' sources said.

Jilani was declared persona non grata by India in 2003 when he was Deputy High Commissioner in New Delhi for allegedly funding Kashmiri separatists.





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