Diplomatic Correspondent

Will discuss key issues of peace and security, including CBMs, and Jammu and Kashmir

NEW DELHI: Pakistan Foreign Secretary Riaz Muhammad Khan arrived on Monday for the third round of composite dialogue with his Indian counterpart Shyam Saran. The talks, spread over Tuesday and Wednesday, will review the progress made in the last two rounds of talks and also discuss the key issues of peace and security, including confidence-building measures, and Jammu and Kashmir.

Soon after arrival, Mr. Khan expressed hope that his talks with Mr. Saran would move forward in a positive manner. Asked if he had brought any fresh proposals on Kashmir, the Pakistani official said he would not like to pre-judge the content and outcome of his discussions.

In a related development, the External Affairs Ministry spokesman, when asked if the recent exchange of words between India and Pakistan would have a bearing on the talks, said: "This is a scheduled meeting. It is the beginning of the third round of the composite dialogue. There is a clear-cut agenda for the meeting. I am sure the discussions will go ahead in the best manner possible."

Apart from initiating the third round of the "two plus six" dialogue, the Foreign Secretaries are scheduled to agree on a set of dates for the remaining six issues of Siachen, Sir Creek, Tulbul navigation project/Wular barrage, terrorism and drug trafficking, economic and commercial cooperation and promotion of friendly exchanges.

According to the spokesman, the past practice followed for the talks was a review of the previous composite round and separate sessions on peace and security and Jammu and Kashmir. "During their discussion on Jammu and Kashmir, they will ... assess the progress of the confidence-building measures across the LoC [Line of Control] and finalise dates for a technical-level meeting to discuss modalities of ... [implementing earlier] decisions such as the Poonch-Rawalakot bus service, truck service along [the] Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route, meeting points across the LoC and allowing pilgrims across the Line of Control."

He added: "They will also assess the overall progress achieved during the last two rounds of the composite dialogue and take stock of the outstanding issues, as well as those on which decisions have been reached ... "

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