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Pakistan plans no meeting with India at Paris talks

world Updated: Dec 14, 2008 01:13 IST

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Saturday he did not plan to meet India's envoy at an international conference on Afghanistan in France this weekend but he did not rule out the possibilty.

Any such talks would be the highest-level meeting between India and Pakistan since a militant attack on Mumbai two weeks ago.

India says the attackers were Pakistani and called on Islamabad to do more to find those who assisted them. The prospect of war between the nuclear-armed neighbours has faded but India says a 4-year-old peace process is in jeopardy.

India is expected to send deputy foreign minister Anand Sharma to the Afghanistan talks. Asked if he intended to meet him, Qureshi told reporters: "He hasn't so far requested a bilateral (meeting)...Neither have I."

Pressed on his reason for not wanting to meet, he said he was not ruling out an encounter.

"I have an open mind. In politics nothing is excluded. I believe in opening doors, not shutting them," Qureshi said.

The United States has been at the forefront of diplomatic efforts to stop a full-blown crisis erupting between two countries that have already fought three wars.

Indian and U.S. officials have levelled accusations at Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant organisation that fought Indian rule in Kashmir and, according to analysts, has had close ties to the Pakistani military's Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

Pakistan began shutting offices and schools of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) charity, linked to Lashkar, on Thursday. Scores of activists have been detained.

India has sent Pakistan a list of 40 people it wants handed over and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said Islamabad's efforts have been insufficient.

Pakistan says it is still waiting for evidence from India on who was responsible and says it will deal with suspects in its courts rather than hand them over.

"We are waiting for proper evidence," Qureshi said. "We are saying 'If you have evidence, share evidence with us'. We are not going to protect terrorists."

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani told Reuters on Saturday he hoped such evidence from India would be forthcoming at the Afghanistan conference.

France is hosting one-day talks on Afghanistan at a castle in the Paris suburb of La Celle Saint-Cloud. Officials from Afghanistan, neighbouring countries such as Iran and Pakistan and powers the United States, Britain, Russia, China and Germany are due to attend.

French officials say the meeting is simply intended to discuss the challenges facing Afghanistan rather than adopt formal decisions.