Thaw in India-Pakistan talks? Chidambaram on way | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Thaw in India-Pakistan talks? Chidambaram on way

India on Wednesday indicated its willingness to resume dialogue with Pakistan, saying even "a few steps" by Islamabad in the Mumbai terror probe will "satisfy" it and will make it easier "to carry on normal business" with the neighbour.

delhi Updated: Feb 04, 2010 00:14 IST

India on Wednesday indicated its willingness to resume dialogue with Pakistan, saying even "a few steps" by Islamabad in the Mumbai terror probe will "satisfy" it and will make it easier "to carry on normal business" with the neighbour.

Confirming the visit of Home Minister P. Chidambaram to Islamabad later this month, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said: "We are trying to focus their attention also on terrorism."

"Chidambaram will get a chance to have very useful exchanges with his counterparts and other leaders in Pakistan," Krishna told reporters accompanying him on a two-day visit to Kuwait.

"Any step forward in the direction of Pakistan also investigating the Mumbai attacks will certainly make it easier for India to carry out normalisation of business with Pakistan," Krishna said while taking note of Pakistan's recent actions in the Mumbai terror probe.

"India should be quite satisfied with Pakistan taking a few steps to investigate the Mumbai attacks," he replied when asked whether India would think of re-starting composite dialogue.

Pakistan recently indicated its willingness to accept Indian dossiers, including the confessional statement of Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone Pakistrani terrorist caught alive during the 26/11 attack, as evidence to prosecute the planners of the Mumbai attacks. Islamabad also accepted evidence relating to boats used to ferry the attackers from Karachi.

Krishna's remarks indicated a likely thaw in bilateral ties amid Pakistan's repeated pitch for the resumption of composite dialogue.

Chidambaram will go to attend the Feb 26-28 meeting of home/interior ministers of the eight-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). This will be the first visit by an Indian minister to Pakistan since the 26/11 attacks that suspended bilateral dialogue and brought ties to an all-time low.

Chidambaram is likely to be accompanied by Home Secretary G.K. Pillai and Intelligence Bureau Director Rajiv Mathur.

Chidambaram's visit could be followed by a meeting between the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan, well placed sources said.

The foreign ministers and leaders of the two countries are expected to meet on the sidelines of the SAARC summit in Thimphu April 28-29.

The talks, however, will focus at this stage on terror and actions taken by Pakistan to prosecute the perpetrators and planners of the Mumbai carnage, the sources said.

The final decision on Chidambaram's visit will be taken by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in consultation with the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), the sources said.

On Tuesday, Krishna had hinted at the possibility of re-engaging Pakistan, saying the doors to "talks were never shut."

He, however, made it clear that any talks with Pakistan at this stage would only focus on terror and actions taken by Pakistan to dismantle the anti-India terror infrastructure on its soil.

In a recent interview, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani made a fresh pitch for resuming composite dialogue while advising India not to allow the entire relationship to be held hostage by the single incident of 26/11 attacks.

Since the leaders of the two countries last met at Sharm el-Sheikh in July last year and decided to de-link composite dialogue from actions against terror by Pakistan, the mood had hardened in India amid a widespread feeling that Islamabad has done little to bring perpetrators of the Mumbai carnage to justice.