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India, Pak for political push to talks

EAM Pranab Mukherjee meets Pakistan president in Islamabad and discusses the entire gamut of bilateral relations.

india Updated: Jan 29, 2007 19:15 IST
Agencies

India and Pakistan on Saturday agreed to give political push to their dialogue process as External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee met President Pervez Musharraf and discussed the entire gamut of bilateral ties, including "difficult" issues of terrorism and Jammu and Kashmir.

He held discussions with Musharraf for about 70 minutes during which they reviewed the progress made in the bilateral relations and ways to move forward.

"Entire range of India-Pakistan relationship was discussed... All issues were discussed, including difficult ones, such as settlement of outstanding disputes, terrorism and Kashmir," External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna told journalists after the meeting.

Sarna said Mukherjee and Musharraf were gratified to know the progress that has been made on various issues and reviewed those issues on which progress needs to be made.

The two discussed how to move this relationship forward from this point, he said.

"They expressed their determination to continue to give political impetus to the discussions and carry them forward," Sarna said.

Mukherjee's meeting with Musharraf came just a few hours ahead of his talks with his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid M Kasuri on the entire range of bilateral ties.

Terrorism and Kashmir issues are set to dominate the talks during which the third round of composite dialogue will be reviewed.

The Indian side will seek to know from Pakistan what steps it has taken to dismantle the terror infrastructure and end infiltration after being provided with "pin-pointed" evidence two months back.

Setting up of a joint consultative mechanism on Kashmir for issues like tourism, health and ecology is also expected to figure in the talks. 

Mukherjee arrived in Islamabad on Saturday afternoon with an invitation for Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to attend a regional meeting in New Delhi in April.

"I have come here with an invitation for Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to attend the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) summit in New Delhi," Mukherjee told reporters on his arrival.

It was earlier widely thought the invitation would be for Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

Mukherjee will also invite his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri to attend the foreign ministers' meeting that precedes the summit.

According to the minister, India hoped to operationalise the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) at the SAARC summit.

"SAFTA has tremendous potential. It will benefit the entire region by ensuring free flow of commerce and trade," Mukherjee maintained.