Home Minister P Chidambaram said on Monday that bilateral talks with Pakistani leaders could be on the anvil if he goes to Islamabad for the SAARC interior ministers conference.
"I presume if I go to Pakistan, I presume we will hold bilateral talks if there is an opportunity. But remember SAARC is a multilateral forum," Chidambaram told reporters when asked about his proposed visit. He was presenting his ministry's monthly report card before the media.
Islamabad is to host the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) interior ministers' conference on Feb 20, and informed sources say that Chidambaram could make the trip.
There has been no ministerial visit from India to Pakistan since the 2008 Mumbai terror strikes. The last visit was by Pranab Mukherjee in May 2008 who was then the external affairs minister.
Chidambaram's refrain -- after India submitted seven terror dossiers to Pakistan for action -- has been that Islamabad needs to do more to punish the Pakistan-based masterminds of the Mumbai attack, which claimed lives of 166 people Nov 26, 2008.
Last week, after Pakistani investigators named Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi as the mastermind behind the Mumbai attacks, Chidambaram said Pakistan was still dragging its feet.
The SAARC conference will be attended by ministers from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and is expected to discuss regional cooperation for dealing with terrorism, narcotics and organised crime.