Differences still exist: India
On the eve of the foreign secretary-level talks, Pakistan said resolution of the Siachen issue is a “matter of days” as the two countries have been able to narrow down their differences to such a level. “All I can tell you is that we are very near. There are differences but these can be bridged by political will,” Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri told NDTV.
“Given the political will, we have narrowed down our differences enough for us to have a decision within a matter of days, not even a week,” he added.
However, informed sources told HT that there are still differences between India and Pakistan on the authentication of the existing position of troops on either side before disengagement. India is for this authentication but Pakistan has not responded positively so far at the defence-secretary level talks, despite assurances at the highest level.
Kasuri also said “tangible” progress is necessary during the deliberations as failure to reach any agreement will demoralise people in both countries. “We hope that as a result of this meeting, we will, in the spirit of the Havana declaration, see narrowing of divergences and building on convergences,” he said.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan arrived in New Delhi on Monday for talks with his counterpart, Shiv shankar Menon.
Khan, accompanied by a nine-member delegation from Islamabad, said he looked forward to constructive discussions with the Indian delegation. “I am looking forward to very constructive discussions with the foreign secretary,” Khan said on arrival at the airport, where he was received by Menon.A large variety of items await discussion at the level of the top diplomats, officials said. Among them, crucially for India, a “test” of Pakistan’s commitment to contain and prevent acts of terrorism against India.Based on Pakistan’s responses, India will present some “evidence” related to involvement of groups or individuals based in Pakistan in recent acts of terror in India, which require a follow-up by Islamabad, official sources said. The delegations will also review the third round of the bilateral composite dialogue process, which was concluded in June.
Foreign secretary-level talks to review the third round were put off after the Mumbai serial train bombings in July.