India ready to discuss all issues with Pakistan

India ready to discuss all issues with Pakistan

Highly placed officials in New Delhi said talks between Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir, expected to take place on the sidelines of the SAARC Standing Committee meeting in Thimpu, may not come up with anything dramatic. But they will try reviving bilateral relations that went into cold storage after 26/11. Senior officials said the Thimpu meeting will be an exploratory exercise.

Rao and Bashir are likely to prepare the ground for External Affairs Minister S M Krishna's meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi during his expected visit to New Delhi during March or April.

Krishna had invited Qureshi to visit India during his trip to Islamabad on July 14-15, last year, to continue attempts to normalise relations. Despite the duo’s failure to make any headway, Qureshi had accepted Krishna's invitation to visit India.

Disagreements on the possible deliverables of the visit between the diplomats of the two countries have delayed  finalisation of the dates of the Pakistani foreign minister's visit.
Sources said Rao and Bashir had spoken to each other over the phone at least twice in the past few days and had started making fresh attempts to narrow down differences.  Pakistan had earlier blamed India's "selective approach" for the failure of Krishna-Qureshi meeting in Islamabad. India had blamed Pakistan's "all or nothing" stance for the impasse.

Ahead of the Foreign Secretary level talks, New Delhi, however, made it clear that it was ready to discuss all issues of mutual concern with Islamabad.

New Delhi believes that the talks in Thimpu could succeed if the two sides start with what they could do to begin with. Rao is likely to offer meetings of Indian and Pakistani officials on the issues related to prisoners incarcerated in each other's country, outstanding consular issues, trade related issues, the Sir Creek dispute and counter-terrorism measures.

Though Islamabad maintains that Kashmir is the "core issue" in Pakistan-India relation, officials in New Delhi refrained from listing it among the ones that could be discussed.