India, Pak set to resume peace moves
Indian Foreign Secy Saran and his Pak counterpart Riaz Mohammad are due to hold talks on the sidelines of a regional conference in Dhaka.india Updated: Jul 31, 2006 12:37 IST
India and Pakistan on Monday expect to resume a peace dialogue that has been severely strained after New Delhi blamed Islamist militants across the border for train bombings in Mumbai earlier in July.
Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran and his Pakistani counterpart Riaz Mohammad Khan -- bureaucrats who head the respective foreign ministries -- were due to hold talks on the sidelines of a regional conference in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka.
Although no formal schedule has been set, they were expected to meet later in the day, officials said.
Saran said the two sides would review bilateral issues and try and address each other's concerns in the light of the Mumbai attacks and its impact on the fragile peace process.
"The message will be that Pakistan and India need to work together," Mr Saran told reporters ahead of the talks.
"We are engaged in a peace process which is important to both countries and it is very important that in order to allow this process to move forward there must be a commitment to abandon cross-border terrorism in whatever form it occurs," he said.
The July 11 bombing of commuter trains and stations in Mumbai, India's financial and entertainment hub, killed more than 180 people and cast a long shadow on moves between New Delhi and Islamabad to end long-standing animosity.
Indian investigators suspect Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba and Pakistani military spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence used disaffected Indian Muslims to carry out the attacks.
Although Islamabad and Lashkar both denied any links to the attacks, New Delhi called off a meeting scheduled earlier in July between Saran and Khan to review the peace process.
India has since continued to press Pakistan to live up to a 2004 pledge to curb Islamist militants in Kashmir and have also been blamed for terror attacks elsewhere across India.
Saran said India had not decided to call off talks with Pakistan for good or give up on the peace process.
"If there are problems, if there are concerns, we need to sit down and talk about those concerns," he said.
"As far as the other aspects of our relations with Pakistan are concerned, we have taken no step which would retard or which would in any way adversely impact on those exchanges," he said referring to growing communication, sporting and cultural links between the neighbours.
Pakistani officials were not immediately available for comment.
India and Pakistan launched fresh moves to make peace after teetering on the brink of their fourth war in 2002.
While the process has vastly improved relations between the two countries, it has made slow progress over resolving their central territorial dispute over Kashmir.
Asked when India would schedule formal bilateral negotiations to carry the peace process forward, Saran said: "Let me first have the talks with my counterpart, let us see where we are able to take these talks, then we will decide.