External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna will visit Islamabad on July 15 to hold talks with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
This was agreed upon during a phone call by the latter to the former on Tuesday.
Their talks will be preceded by a Foreign Secretary-level interaction on June 26 on the sidelines of a conference of Home Ministers of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in Islamabad. The two Foreign Secretaries will finalise the agenda for the Krishna-Qureshi meeting.
The proposal for the dates was made by India and accepted by Pakistan during a much-awaited 25-minute telephonic conversation, said sources in the government.
The talks were mandated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani during their interaction at the SAARC summit in Thimphu last month. They are intended to bridge the trust deficit before both countries embark on a full-fledged dialogue that was suspended after the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
“I am looking forward to these talks and let us hope that they will help in bringing our countries closer together. Let us hope that our efforts will be fruitful,'' Mr. Krishna told newspersons in New Delhi after the telephonic conversation.
The two Ministers will work out the methodology for carrying forward the dialogue process to ensure that all outstanding issues are discussed in an atmosphere of “mutual trust.''
Briefing reporters in Islamabad after the conversation, Mr. Qureshi said he invited Mr. Krishna to Pakistan for discussions and quoted the Indian Minister as stating that he was “delighted'' to get the invitation.
Mr. Qureshi was optimistic about the recent bonhomie between the two countries, but added: “I will not create any false hopes. I'm an optimist and also a realist. I recognise the trust deficit. It is an uphill task; don't expect miracles overnight.''
Mr. Qureshi maintained that all issues of concern would be on the table for discussion.
On India's specific concern about terrorism, his contention was that both countries were victims of terror and the best way to tackle these issues was through mutual understanding and cooperation.
Referring to the Joint Anti-Terror Mechanism, he said if one of the two countries wanted it to be strengthened, then “we have an open mind.''
On Pakistan's concerns over water and alleged violations by India of the Indus Waters Treaty, he sought to apportion blame for the water shortage faced by his country. “Pakistan has objections to the Kishanganga project, but we are also mismanaging this very precious resource,'' he said.