Home secretaries begin talks, go beyond 26/11 terror attacks | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Home secretaries begin talks, go beyond 26/11 terror attacks

The first formal talks between the home secretaries of India and Pakistan in two years on Monday went beyond the 26/11 Mumbai attacks as the defining moment in relations between the security establishments of the two countries. Aloke Tikku & Jayanth Jacob report.Dinner diplomacy | Pitching in for better ties | A gentleman's gamble

delhi Updated: Mar 29, 2011 00:56 IST
Aloke Tikku & Jayanth Jacob

The first formal talks between the home secretaries of India and Pakistan in two years on Monday went beyond the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks as the defining moment in relations between the security establishments of the two countries.

The opening day of the two-day discussions - ahead of the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani in Mohali on Wednesday - focused on the meeting grounds for security agencies and deepened people-to-people contacts.

Home secretary GK Pillai and his Pakistani counterpart Chaudhary Qamar Zaman spoke separately to mediapersons, but in one voice, about the forward movement they had made.

"The talks are extremely positive. Progress has been made in a certain direction, in the right direction," Pillai told reporters as he wound up the first round of talks at the Ashoka Hotel.

Zaman, who spoke later, also described the talks as "very positive".

Besides some concessions to emphasise on the progress in the Mumbai attacks case, official sources told Hindustan Times that a joint statement to be issued on Tuesday was expected to push for a new liberalised visa agreement.

The joint statement would also talk about drawing up a formal mechanism for counter-terrorism cooperation, including information sharing, enhancing anti-narcotics cooperation and early meetings between federal investigation agencies of both countries.

During the meeting, Pillai flagged Indian concerns at the pace of investigations into the Mumbai terror attack as well but officials insisted it was only one of the important points discussed.

The 26/11 Mumbai attacks, which took place hours after the home secretary-level talks ended in Islamabad in 2008, had halted the composite dialogue between the two countries.

Monday's meeting was the first step to resume the process, and would be followed by a similar meeting of commerce secretaries and water resources secretaries.

"The idea was to work on the deliverables and create a safe pitch for the Mohali match," said an official.

Singh and Gilani will discuss peace initiatives at Mohali before they together witness the World Cup semi-final between the two rival teams, as part of New Delhi's cricket diplomacy.