Pakistan will try to find a “common denominator” during upcoming talks with Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao without “forgetting” outstanding issues like Kashmir, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir has said.
“We do not have a prepared agenda. We will see what can be identified as doable and then take it to the Foreign Ministers’ level.
In this meeting, we will try and find a common denominator,” Mr. Bashir said, referring to talks he will hold with Ms. Rao in Islamabad on June 24.
“There has to be a comfort level on both sides which will help us pick up the doable for the Foreign Ministers. This does not mean we will forget other issues like Jammu and Kashmir,” Mr. Bashir told The News daily.
India has said is not going to discuss substantive issues like Kashmir with Pakistan in the proposed rounds of dialogue but is only attempting to create the “right atmosphere” for removing the trust deficit for a broad dialogue later.
“We are not going to discuss substantive issues like Kashmir. As of now our effort is to create a right atmosphere. Only then some degree of trust can be created between the two countries,” highly-placed sources in the government had said last week in New Delhi.
The Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan have been tasked by Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Yousuf Raza Gilani to find ways to bridge the trust deficit between the two countries and to prepare the grounds for a meeting between the Foreign Ministers in Islamabad on July 15.
Ms. Rao is the first senior Indian official to visit Islamabad since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which were blamed on the Pakistan-based Lashker-e-Taiba terror group.
India suspended the composite dialogue in the wake of the attacks and diplomatic sources have told PTI that the two countries are set to adopt a new format for future parleys.
Mr. Bashir said Pakistan’s assessment suggested that the “Indian side will be more forthcoming” in next week’s meeting.
“There are some indications that substantive matters would be discussed. This is good,” he said.
He contended that India’s current “tone and tenor is more restrained,” as compared to the situation that prevailed following the Foreign Secretary-level talks in New Delhi in February.
Keywords: India-Pakistan dialogue