Tuesday, June 28, 2011


ISLAMABAD: India and Pakistan resumed their diplomatic dialogue here Thursday, with Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao saying that New Delhi wished to see "a stable and prosperous Pakistan".

The two-day foreign secretary talks seek to discuss all thorny issues which strain bilateral ties and reduce trust deficit that touched a new low after the 26/11 Mumbai attack blamed on Pakistani terrorists.

This is the first high-level engagement between the two estranged neighbours since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hosted his counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani the World Cup semi-final in Mohali in March.
Rao, named India's new envoy to the US, touched down here in the morning and said she was approaching the talks with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir with an "open and constructive mind".

"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, thereby leading to an eventual normalisation of relations for the well-being and prosperity of our peoples," Rao said in her arrival statement.

She said her's was an important visit as it marks the penultimate leg of the resumed dialogue process before the Pakistani foreign minister reaches India next month.

Rao said the discussions would include "peace and security, including confidence building measures, Jammu and Kashmir and promotion of friendly exchanges".

"I bring with me the best wishes of the people and the government of India for the people and government of Pakistan. We wish to see a stable, peaceful and prosperous Pakistan," she said.

During her three-day stay to Islamabad, she will call on Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. She returns to India Saturday afternoon.

The two-day talks are expected to set the stage for the meeting of the foreign ministers in New Delhi.

Rao is expected to convey India's disappointment with the slow progress in the trial of terrorists who stormed Mumbai.

Latest intelligence inputs suggest that the infrastructure of anti-India terrorist groups still operates on Pakistani soil.

The two sides are also expected to discuss confidence-building measures across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and nuclear CBMs.

While India has called for patience while dealing with Pakistan, Gilani has said that "core issues", including Kashmir, needed to be discussed.

At the same time, Gilani has underscored the need for increased trade as well as people-to-people contacts.

On Wednesday, he said that the future of Pakistan was closely linked with the resolution of the Kashmir dispute.