Pak Raises Kashmir Again, Says Dispute Central To Talks7 February 2011
New Delhi: A day after their meeting aimed at restoring the dialogue process, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir struck a note of optimism on Monday and discussed ways of taking the engagement process forward. Rao and Bashir described their 90-minute meeting as useful and expressed satisfaction over the discussions. But Islamabad raked up the dispute over Kashmir as well, with Bashir terming it as 'central to talks with India'. Bashir said that the Kashmir issue should be resolved keeping in mind the 'aspirations of Kashmiris'. Rao told the media that her discussions with Bashir were not dominated by one issue. 'We talked about the (dialogue) process and charting of the way forward,' she said. Asked about the next step, Rao said: 'We need to wait and see. We have to wait for this process to mature. We should be optimistic, cautiously optimistic because there are many issues that remain to be resolved.' Bashir, she said, had told her that his government was committed to taking forward the dialogue process on outstanding issues in a constructive way. The Pakistan foreign secretary separately told reporters that 'there was a broad meeting of minds' during his meeting with Rao and he had 'every reason to be quite satisfied'. 'We have had very productive exchange of views. We will be reporting respectively to our governments and then take it from there,' Bashir said. Asked if 2007 Samjhauta Express blast case came up during the meeting, Bashir was evasive, while Rao said 'all' outstanding issues were discussed.