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Updated: September 18, 2009 11:24 IST

India, Pak Foreign Secretaries’ meet likely

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Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir.
The HIndu
Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir.

Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir is expected to travel to the U.S. over the weekend for talks with his Indian counterpart Nirupama Rao on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly session though a date for their meeting is yet to be finalised.

Mr. Bashir and other senior officials of the Foreign Office are expected to leave for New York during the weekend, official sources said. “The delegation could leave on Saturday,” a source told PTI.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi recently said that the two Foreign Secretaries are expected to meet ahead of a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan on September 26.

Though Mr. Qureshi has said he is not expecting any “major breakthrough” in his talks with his Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna, Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit did not rule out the possibility of a positive outcome to the talks next week.

Pakistan will approach the talks with an “open mind”, Mr. Basit said. “When we approach the talks with an open mind, there is the possibility of something positive coming out of the meeting,” he added.

During their meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh in July, the Prime Ministers of the two countries had decided that the Foreign Secretaries should meet “as often as necessary.”

However, the two sides have been unable to schedule a meeting of the Foreign Secretaries due to Pakistan’s stand that Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao should visit Islamabad for the parleys. The Foreign Office has pointed out that Bashir visited New Delhi for the last round of talks and it was the turn of his counterpart to come to Islamabad for the next meeting.

Pakistan is also not keen on talks between the Foreign Secretaries being held in a third country on the sidelines of international events as the Foreign Office believes such meetings are difficult to schedule.

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