India on Tuesday ruled out third country mediation in its dealings with Pakistan even as officials, basing their assessment on Islamabad accepting the offer and venue for the talks, said the response has so far been “positive.”

“As we have said, in terms of content our focus will be on terrorism. Pakistan has said it will raise issues concerning peace and stability. That we can do. It is a small step…a beginning but we are not going back to the pre-Mumbai attacks agenda [composite dialogue],” officials from the Ministry of External Affairs added.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said, “Our policy is not in favour of involving third countries in talks with Pakistan.”

His observations came ahead of the Foreign Secretary-level talks between the two countries on Thursday.

According to the tentative agenda, the talks will be held at the Hyderabad House and would last for two hours or more. The two sides are likely to separately brief the media after the talks.

“I don’t respond to observations by people from other countries,” he said, when asked by newspersons to comment on Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s statement in Beijing that China had a blank cheque to mediate between the two countries.

“It is for the Indians to decide if they would be comfortable to have China talking as a third party to bridge the gap,” Mr. Qureshi had added.

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