Pak envoy meets Rao; dialogue process set in motion | india | Hindustan Times
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Pak envoy meets Rao; dialogue process set in motion

india Updated: Feb 05, 2010 23:49 IST
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The process for resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan was set in motion on Friday with the two countries discussing the dates and agenda for the Foreign Secretary-level meeting that is expected to focus on terrorism.

With India offering to have Foreign Secretary-level talks, Pakistan High Commissioner Shahid Malik met Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao here to discuss the issue.

Malik met Rao in response to an offer of talks made by the Foreign Secretary to her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir about a week ago. She invited Bashir to Delhi for talks and proposed two sets of dates this month.

After the 45-minute-long meeting, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said Rao and Malik discussed "relevant details" about the proposed talks.

Malik said he would be getting back to India soon, Prakash said, adding "We now await response from Pakistan about convenient dates."

The Pakistani envoy told reporters that he would inform his government about his discussions with Rao and "we will take it from there.

"We discussed the possible agenda and the dates for the meeting...We have to find mutually-convenient time and date." Asked whether there would be resumption of the Composite Dialogue stalled after the Mumbai attacks, he refused to pre-judge but said "we have agreed in the past that dialogue is the only way forward."

Noting that so many issues form part of the Composite Dialogue, Malik said, "these are issues which are of concern to Pakistan and India and attempt is to keep talking about the issues which are of concern to us."

Describing his meeting with Rao as "useful and good", he said, "This was about the resumption of the dialogue between the two sides at the level of foreign secretaries."

Replying to questions, he said, "all possible issues which are of concern to both India and Pakistan will be discussed in general."

India has made it clear terrorism will be the focus of the Foreign Secretary level talks but it will "enter into the discussions with an open and positive mind".

Pakistan would like to discuss the Kashmir issue as also terrorism.

"Terrorism would certainly be one of areas of discussion because we have issues relating to terrorism that we would also like to talk about and this is something which affects Pakistan and therefore, certainly it not to say that if India raises terrorism then we will shy away from that. We also have issue to talk about in that context," he said.

Asked about Kashmir, Malik said Pakistan has been raising this issue with India at every possible opportunity and fora and would continue to do so.

"It is something we have been talking with India in the past and we will continue doing that," he said.

Malik welcomed Indian statement that it will enter the discussions with an "open and positive mind".

India had suspended the composite dialogue after Mumbai attacks and refused to restart the process before it could see any concrete action being taken by Pakistan in punishing those behind the carnage.