Thursday, July 25, 2024

Rao-Bashir talks ‘positive’; Khar hopes to ‘move forward’


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New Delhi: Foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan on Tuesday held “positive” talks on key issues setting the stage for Wednesday’s meeting between their ministers S M Krishna and Hina Rabbani Khar.

Khar(34), the youngest and the first women Foreign Minister of Pakistan, on her arrival here said she hoped India and Pakistan can “move forward” as good neighbours.

The two foreign secretaries had “very cordial and positive discussions”, an official spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs said after the parleys between Nirupama Rao and Salman Bashir, who also finalised the agenda for tomorrow’s talks.

The spokesman said they reviewed the progress in talks between different Ministries and organizations of the two countries in the preceding months.

The two officials will brief their respective ministers of their discussions ahead of the Krishna-Khar meeting, he said.

Rao and Bashir are understood to have finalised a slew of CBMs designed to expand cross-LoC travel and trade in Jammu and Kashmir apart from holding discussions on terror including progress in Pakistan in the probe into 2008 Mumbai attack and ISI’s links with Kashmiri separatists.

India is also understood to have handed over to the Pakistani delegation the revised list of ‘most wanted’ fugitives which contains 48 names.

“..hope that these two countries have learnt lessons from history, but are not burdened by history and we can move forward as good, friendly neighbours who have stake in each other’s future and both the countries understand their responsibilities to the region and within the region.”

Besides reviewing the progress made by India and Pakistan on various bilateral issues during the series of meetings, including security, commerce, water and Siachen, Krishna and Khar will also explore areas to expand the cooperation.

The ministers will also explore the possibility to upgrade the engagement in some areas such as commerce and security to the ministerial level, sources said.

Khar told reporters in Lahore before leaving for India that Pakistan is looking forward to a “pro-active, productive and result-oriented” engagement with India on all issues, including Kashmir on which “we should not be held hostage to history”.

She however said both countries have committed to an “uninterrupted and uninterruptible” peace process since they began their re-engagement earlier this year.

Ahead of the meeting, Bashir said, “I think we have every reason to be satisfied with our joint endeavours for the cause of peace and stability and for the good relations between our two countries.”

“We had a very good meeting in Islamabad last month and this in a sense has set the trend for the discussions today,” said Rao.

Bashir said he looked forward to a “productive meeting between the two ministers”.

Rao was accompanied Foreign Secretary-designate Ranjan Mathai, Y K Sinha, joint secretary in charge of Pakistan in MEA, Sharat Sabharwal, India’s high commissioner to Pakistan and other senior officials.

Led by Bashir, the Pakistani delegation included Zehra Akbari, Director General, South Asia, in Pakistan’s Foreign Office and Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik.

The cross-LoC CBMs likely to be announced include increasing the frequency of bus links between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, easing of permit regulations and increase in the number of trading days across the LoC. (PTI)


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