Foreign Secretaries may hold talks in Islamabad

December 24, 2015 01:19 am | Updated March 24, 2016 11:40 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar is expected to travel to Islamabad in mid-January to begin Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue (CBD) with his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, sources told The Hindu on Wednesday.

The mutual agreement on venue and tentative date for the talks between the two Foreign Secretaries, coincided with India appointing a new High Commissioner, Gautam H. Bambawale to Islamabad. Mr. Bambawale, India’s current ambassador to Bhutan, is one of the experts on China-India ties in the Ministry of External Affairs and is known to enjoy a good working relation with Mr. Jaishankar.

The meeting between Mr. Jaishankar and Mr. Chaudhry will be the first stage of the Comprehensive Dialogue Process which was announced by the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during her visit to Islamabad earlier this month to participate in the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference on Afghanistan. Sources say the decision on Islamabad as the venue for the first Foreign Secretary level talks came after some hard negotiations between the two sides but Pakistanis sent a positive message by agreeing to India’s choice of Mr. Bambawale as the new High Commissioner.

However, Pakistan’s position on the Hurriyat Conference will be watched in the run-up to the meeting between the Foreign Secretaries. In recent weeks, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit has met the Hurriyat leaders in New Delhi. High Commission sources have told The Hindu that Mr. Basit is expected to meet some more Hurriyat leaders before the New Year.

The meeting of the Foreign Secretaries will determine the way ahead for the structured dialogue between India and Pakistan, which is expected to cover peace and security, Confidence Building Measures, Jammu & Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage/Tulbul Navigation Project, economic and commercial cooperation.

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