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Indo-Pak talks begin; terrorism tops agenda

The Indian and Pakistan foreign ministers began crucial talks on Sunday with India focusing on terror emanating from across the border and Islamabad still hedging its bets over action against the 26/11 Mumbai terror perpetrators.

world Updated: Sep 27, 2009 22:51 IST

The Indian and Pakistan foreign ministers began crucial talks on Sunday with India focusing on terror emanating from across the border and Islamabad still hedging its bets over action against the 26/11 Mumbai terror perpetrators.

Hours before External Affairs Minister SM Krishna met his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi at the New York Palace hotel Sunday, Islamabad's top diplomat suggested that it was willing to take action, but could not take to court a "half-baked" case against alleged 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed.

The two ministers shook hands and posed for photographs before proceeding for the keenly awaited talks. Their foreign secretaries, India's Nirupama Rao and Pakistan's Salman Bashir, had a two-hour preparatory round Saturday.

Ahead of the talks, Qureshi said Pakistan was contemplating appointment of veteran diplomat and former foreign secretary Riaz Mohammed Khan as its special envoy on Indian affairs amid reports that Islamabad was mulling back-channel diplomacy.

"Yes, we are considering very senior former diplomat, former foreign secretary - a gentleman called Riaz Mohammed Khan," Qureshi said, referring to reports that Pakistan was to name a special envoy for informal talks with India.

Earlier, Bashir told a TV channel: "We will certainly not hesitate from taking action (against Saeed), but we got to have a case which is legally tenable because if we take a case into court which is a half-baked case and if the court sets him free, you'll say 'collusion', 'drama'."

"No we are not in a mood to collude with terrorists," he added.

But Krishna, who had an informal chat with Qureshi at a working dinner of the SAARC foreign ministers here Saturday night, before Sunday's encounter made it clear the Mumbai attacks would be the "focal point" of their talks.