Monday, November 29, 1999

Indian, Pakistani foreign secretaries to hold talks June 24

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New Delhi, June 18 (IANS) India and Pakistan are bracing for a string of meetings aimed at bridging the trust deficit, starting with Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao's talks with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir in Islamabad June 24 that will set the stage for the July 15 meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries.The meeting between Rao and Bashir flows from an understanding between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani in Thimphu April 29.In an attempt to revive dialogue that froze after the Nov 26, 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, the two leaders had directed their foreign secretaries and foreign ministers to meet and work out the modalities of reducing the trust deficit between the two countries.Rao will also call on Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the external affairs ministry said here Friday while announcing the foreign secretary-level talks.Rao and Bashir are expected to discuss an entire gamut of bilateral issues, including terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir, confidence building measures and the sharing of river waters.The meeting is expected to flesh out the agenda for the talks between foreign ministers of the two countries in Islamabad July 15.Rao's trip will be followed by a visit by Home Secretary G.K. Pillai to Islamabad to attend the SAARC Home Secretaries meeting, that will firm up the agenda for a meeting of home ministers of the 8-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in the Pakistani capital June 26.Home Minister P. Chidambaram will represent India at the regional meet and will also hold talks with his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik that are expected to be dominated by India's concerns over terrorism.Outlining India's approach ahead of the talks, Rao said at a seminar recently that India was ready to address all issues of mutual concern through dialogue and peaceful negotiations for bridging the trust deficit between the two countries.Rao asked Pakistan to stop using terrorist groups 'selectively as strategic assets' and stressed that both countries should seek 'creative solution' to complex issues like Jammu and Kashmir that have shadowed their relations.

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