India on Tuesday blamed "Pakistan's overreach" for the failure of their foreign minister-level talks in July and underlined that New Delhi's "incremental and graduated" approach to address the trust deficit was not directed at avoiding sensitive issues.
"Our efforts to bridge the trust deficit and pave the way for a serious and comprehensive dialogue were thwarted by a level of overreach by Pakistan that complicated the resumption of a sustained dialogue process," Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said at a seminar on Pakistan organized by Jamia Milia Islamia in New Delhi.
Rao was referring to the July 15 talks between External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi that broke down in bitter mutual recriminations over clashing perceptions of the scope of dialogue and Islamabad's insistence that a timeline should be set for resolving issues like Jammu and Kashmir and Siachen glacier.
"However, we do not view this as a set-back in our quest for peace as both sides appear to be committed to ensuring that the spirit of Thimphu is not lost," Rao said while alluding to India's invitation to Qureshi to visit the country to carry forward the talks.
Qureshi was expected to come to India towards the end of the year, but due to a spate of high-level visits India will be hosting over the next few months, his visit is now likely to take place in the first quarter of 2011.
Rao defended India's incremental approach towards dialogue with Pakistan.
"India's advocacy of an incremental, graduated and forward-looking approach that seeks to address the deficit of trust is by no means an attempt to avoid tackling of the substantive differences that trouble relations with Pakistan," she said.
"While there can be no guarantees for success, such an approach seeks to build first on what is achievable and simultaneously to also address the more intractable issues in a sustained manner," she said.
"The issue of terrorism arising out of the sub-conventional conflict directed by Pakistan against India for over two decades now, cannot be ignored either. It is as substantive an issue as the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, or the issue of the Siachen Glacier," Rao stressed.
Describing herself as "an eternal optimist", Rao advocated "imaginative and creative approaches" to tackling bilateral problems.