India wary as trust deficit remains

India wary as trust deficit remains

India wary as trust deficit remains

‘in talking terms’: Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir arrives at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi on Wednesday. pti

As Pakistani foreign secretary Salman Bashir landed here for the much-hyped parleys with his Indian counterpart Nirupama Rao; highly placed sources said on Wednesday that New Delhi was approaching the talks with an “open mind”, but was “conscious of the limitations imposed by the trust deficit after the November 26, 2008, carnage in Mumbai”.

Bashir, however, told media persons at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi that Pakistan was hopeful of a positive outcome of the foreign secretary-level talks on Thursday. “It is good to be back. I have come here to bridge the differences,” he said.
While India is likely to focus on the issue of terrorism in the talks on Thursday, Pakistan is expected to raise a number of issues--like Kashmir, Siachen and water dispute.

After reaching New Delhi, Pakistani foreign secretary had a meeting with a delegation of All-Party Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. He also had separate meetings with representatives of the hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Shah Gilani.

Diplomatic sources said Bashir and the Kashmiri leaders had exchanged notes on the current situation in the Valley.

The parleys between Rao and Bashir are going to be the first formal India-Pakistan dialogue after New Delhi suspended the composite dialogue with Islamabad in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

New Delhi itself had late last month proposed foreign secretary-level dialogue with Islamabad to end the 15-month-long diplomatic chill between the two neighbours. But sources in New Delhi made it clear that no joint statement was expected to be issued after the talks on Thursday. “Given the complexity involved, we would use this opportunity to clear the air as much as possible,” said a highly placed official involved with the preparation for the talks.

New Delhi, according to the sources, will also “seek to take the first step, even if small towards the opening of the possibility for future dialogue.”

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on Wednesday reiterated that the foreign secretary-level talks should not be construed as resumption of composite dialogue.  In his written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, Krishna said New Delhi expected Islamabad “to bring the perpetrators of the terrorist attack to justice, unravel the full conspiracy behind the attack, fulfil its commitment to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism and deny sanctuary to all terrorist groups which operate from its soil”.

“Enabling an effective channel of communication between India and Pakistan could assist in the discussion of such concerns and highlight the seriousness we attach to the need for action by Pakistan against terrorism,” said Krishna, explaining the circumstances that made New Delhi propose the foreign secretary-level talks with Islamabad.

The ministry of external affairs in a press release stated that the Pakistani foreign secretary would also call on Krishna and national security advisor Shiv Shankar Menon.

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