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Updated: June 24, 2011 02:12 IST

India-Pakistan talks focus on peace and security

Anita Joshua
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Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao arrives with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir for talks in Islamabad on Thursday.
AP Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao arrives with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir for talks in Islamabad on Thursday.

The Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan began their discussions on all issues of mutual interest with a specific focus on peace and security on Thursday afternoon, with a “great sense of confidence, optimism and determination” and remained engaged for over five hours after which both sides expressed satisfaction.

After the meeting, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao was quoted by some Pakistani television channels as stating that both countries had to work together to eliminate terrorism and that there could be no segmented approach. Her Pakistani counterpart, Salman Bashir, added that terrorism was related to peace and security in the region.

The Indian delegation described the talks as “constructive, substantive and forward-looking.” Ms. Rao said some steps to improve the relations had been discussed but these could not be disclosed to the media. Mr. Bashir flagged the Lahore Declaration and Memorandum of Understanding signed in 1999 and described it as a “shared vision for peace and security.”

Though the first session of the three-part engagement over the two days was initially scheduled for two hours, the meeting went on till late into the evening. According to External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash, all aspects related to peace and security have been discussed. “Terrorism is an issue that is confronting both countries and has affected peace and security in both countries. Both sides are committed to try and bridge the trust deficit and take the relationship forward.”

“No miracles”

Earlier in the day, Pakistan's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar said no one could expect miracles from these talks but “we are looking for forward movement.” While maintaining that Kashmir is the core issue, she said Pakistan had always been consistent on the need to resolve issues instead of letting them fester so long that they became larger than life and affected the development of the region.

Within the rubric of peace and security, confidence building measures (CBMs) — relating to both nuclear and conventional weapons — were looked at during Thursday's meeting.

At present, the two countries have CBMs in both areas, including informing the other in advance of missile tests. As to whether any new CBMs were discussed, neither side was willing to throw any light.

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All Indo Pak minister level talks should be in the presence of / followed up with Opposition leaders like BJP. Strategic talks which would span across different opinions and change of Goverments needs more cross party inputs.

from:  C Rajagopalan
Posted on: Jun 24, 2011 at 22:14 IST
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