India, Pak To Discuss Terror, Kashmir On Thursday23 June 2010
New Delhi: India and Pakistan will kick off a string of back-to-back meetings on Thursday, starting with talks between foreign secretaries, aimed at bridging post-26-11 trust deficit and exploring confidence-building measures to revive the bilateral dialogue. Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao flew to Islamabad along with Home Secretary G K Pillai on Wednesday for talks with their Pakistani counterparts. Ahead of the talks, Pakistan on Wednesday released 17 Indian nationals and handed them over to Indian authorities at the Attari-Wagah joint border check-post. The 17 nationals released included four from Punjab who had strayed into Pakistan along the international border. 'US pressing Pakistan to act against anti-India terror groups' Rao will hold wide-ranging talks with Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir covering an entire gamut of bilateral issues, including terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir, and the Indus water dispute. All issues are on the table, including Jammu and Kashmir, official sources said here. From India's point of view, terror will top the agenda. During delegation-level discussions, India will press for the speedy trial of seven 26-11 terror attacks suspects in Pakistan, concrete action against Hafiz Saeed, the suspected mastermind of the Mumbai carnage, and against those groups based in Pakistan nurturing anti-India agenda. Ten terrorists held Mumbai hostage for 60 hours from November 26, 2008, killing 166 innocent men, women and children. Rao is also expected to take up a recent spike in cross-border infiltration and ceasefire violations that are marring the spirit of thaw that followed the summit talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani in Thimphu nearly two months ago. Manmohan Singh and Gilani had directed their foreign ministers and foreign secretaries to meet and work out modalities of restoring trust between the two countries. Firing on India-Pakistan border ahead of peace talks: Army Talks between Rao and Bashir will set the stage for meeting between External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Islamabad July 15. Official sources here said India was going into these talks in 'an exploratory, not an accusatory way'. India would also like Pakistan to pursue confidence-building steps like an early meeting of the judicial committee on prisoners, enhanced commercial and economic ties and cross-border trade that will create a better atmosphere for reviving full-scale dialogue in the future, sources said. India is hoping that the Pakistani side will re-affirm the progress made by the two sides during their composite dialogue 2004-2007 and in their back-channel talks on Kashmir that will encourage the two sides to pick up the threads from where they left. Pillai is going to Islamabad for a meeting of senior officials of the eight-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). The foreign secretary-level talks will be followed by a meeting between Home Minister P Chidamabaram and Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Friday. Pakistan opposes UN Security Council expansion In his meeting with Malik, Chidambaram is likely to press for the voice samples of Saeed and Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. The disclosures made by Pakistani-American terror suspect David Coleman Headley, linking the Mumbai attacks to the LeT operatives in Pakistan, will also figure in the discussions, sources said. Chidambaram will represent India at the SAARC meeting of home ministers in Islamabad on Saturday.