Jaishankar arrives in Islamabad, Pak hopes visit will kickstart dialogue

  • Agencies, Islamabad/New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 03, 2015 10:33 IST

Foreign secretary S Jaishankar arrived in Islamabad on Tuesday to hold talks with his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhary, seven months after India had cancelled Foreign Secretary-level talks.

Jaishankar, who flew in Islamabad from Dhaka, was received by Indian high commissioner TCA Raghavan at the airport.

"Indian foreign secretary Dr S Jaishankar arrives at Islamabad for Foreign Secretary level talks," Indian high commission tweeted.

Jaishankar, who started his "SAARC yatra" on Sunday with Bhutan and visited Bangladesh on Monday, will also call on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif later before flying out to Afghanistan on Wednesday.

Pakistani officials said they hoped the talks would lead to a resumption of the Indo-Pak dialogue even as they termed as "speculative" media reports that Pakistan would propose new confidence-building measures during the meeting.

"We have noted that visit is in the context of Saarc. However, when the foreign secretaries meet, bilateral relations would be discussed. We expect this interaction would lead to resumption of the dialogue process," Pakistani officials said.

Asked about a media report that Pakistan was expected to propose a series of new confidence-building measures, including the restoration of the 2003 ceasefire agreement to end hostilities along its border with India, they said it was "just speculation."

Taking a cautious approach towards the outcome of the meeting, which comes seven months after India cancelled foreign secretary-level talks, Indian officials have maintained that the interaction would be primarily to explore how to take forward the "process of normalisation" between the two countries.

India had cancelled foreign secretary-level talks because the Pakistan high commissioner in New Delhi held consultations with Kashmiri separatists. However, earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Sharif and also told him about Jaishankar's 'Saarc yatra'.

The Saarc — an economic and geopolitical grouping of eight countries located in South Asia — includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka as its members.

Ahead of talks, Indian officials had made it clear that India "stands ready to talk with Pakistan in accordance with the Simla Agreement on all issues including Jammu & Kashmir" but maintained that it was not expecting any dramatic results from the visit.

The Pakistan foreign office did not give any details about the agenda of talks but spokesperson Tasnim Aslam on Thursday said that all outstanding issues including Kashmir would be discussed.

Other key issues that the two sides are expected to take up include security issues, Siachin, water issues, confidence building measures, people-to-people contacts and trade matters.

India is also expected to raise the issue of trial of perpetrators of Mumbai attacks, including its mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi.

According to a senior diplomat no major breakthrough is expected in the talks but it will provide an occasion to understand the "approach of Modi government towards Pakistan".

"Frankly, we do not have any idea what this Indian government wants. We will try to understand their policy," he said.

Private media reported that Pakistan can offer some new CBMs including an offer to respect the 2003 ceasefire agreement on the Line of Control.

Jaishankar is also expected to meet advisor on national security and foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz and special assistant to Prime Minister Tariq Fatemi.

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