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Updated: June 23, 2011 13:20 IST

Rao arrives in Islamabad for crucial Indo-Pak talks

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File photo of Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir.
AP File photo of Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao arrived here on Thursday with an “open mind” for crucial talks with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir on issues like peace and security, Jammu and Kashmir and promotion of friendly exchanges.

“I have come to Pakistan with an open mind and a constructive spirit in order to work towards building trust and confidence in our relationship and thereby leading to an eventual normalisation of relations for the well being and prosperity of our two peoples,” Ms. Rao said after her arrival here.

She said “this is an important visit as it marks the penultimate leg of the resumed dialogue process before the visit of the Foreign Minister of Pakistan to India by July 2011” and added that they will discuss the issues that have been mandated to them by their leadership.

Asked about the anti-India sentiments among the people of Pakistan, Ms. Rao told the media travelling with her that best opportunities were presented in most difficult situation.

During the two-day talks, nuclear and conventional confidence-building measures will also be discussed.

Earlier this year, the two countries decided to resume talks on all bilateral issues under the Composite Dialogue, two years after the parleys were suspended in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks.

This time the talks would take place in three segments, including one specially on Jammu and Kashmir.

Asked why there is a special session on Jammu and Kashmir and not on terrorism which is a prime concern of India, officials downplayed it, saying that it has always been a practice to segment issues during the talks. “It is nothing new,” they said.

Following the resumption of talks in February, the Defence, Interior and Commerce Secretaries have met in the last few months while Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani visited India in March to watch the India-Pakistan cricket World Cup semi-final at the invitation of his counterpart Manmohan Singh.

The Foreign Secretaries will also take stock of the progress made in the meetings between the Interior, Commerce and Defence Secretaries.

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