After war of words, Pak cools down

After going full throttle to blame New Delhi’s “selective approach” for the failure of his talks with Krishna, Qureshi toned down on Saturday and said Pakistan was “very serious” about normalising its ties with India.

Though both Krishna and Qureshi will attend an international conference in Afghanistan next week, they are unlikely to have a bilateral meet on the sidelines. Sources in New Delhi, however, said the two foreign ministers would exchange pleasantries when they meet during the conclave.

“We are very serious about normalising our relations with India. I met my Indian counterpart in Islamabad just day before yesterday. We agreed to embark on a sustained dialogue process,” Qureshi said in his opening remarks at a meeting of officials of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan Forum in Islamabad.

Qureshi’s attempts to send positive vibes to New Delhi and cool tempers came just a day before US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to land in Islamabad for Pakistan-America strategic dialogue. The US Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke already arrived in Islamabad.

Washington, too, indicated that the US would like to see Pakistan and India continue the dialogue as the healing process between the two neighbours.

“We certainly welcome this high-level meeting,” said US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley. “It’s expressly the kind of dialogue that we think will help to address and resolve issues of interest between the countries and have consequence in the region as a whole,” he added.

Though the Krishna-Qureshi talks on Thursday ended in a stalemate, New Delhi said it would like to continue the dialogue with Islamabad. She said India had gone into the foreign minister level talks in Islamabad with “a clear set of doables” that it wanted to discuss with Pakistan in order to build trust and confidence between the two nations. “The Pakistanis came to this with a slightly different expectation. I think the aim on their side was to see the entire spectrum of dialogue restored,” she added.

Asked for New Delhi’s reaction to the Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani’s remark on Friday that the ball “is now in the court of India,”  Rao said: “As far as we are concerned, we are very clear as to how this process should move forward. We had concrete ideas and we have conveyed it to the Pakistani side.”

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