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Foreign Secys to meet on Nov 13, 14

Indo-Pak composite dialogue had been called off after the Mumbai blasts, reports Nilova Roy Chaudhury.

india Updated: Oct 17, 2006 21:06 IST
Nilova Roy Chaudhury
Nilova Roy Chaudhury

Shiv Shankar Menon, recently appointed as India's Foreign Secretary, will meet his Pakistani counterpart, Riaz Mohammad Khan in New Delhi on November 13 and 14, to resume discussions on details of the India-Pakistan dialogue process, largely stalled after the Mumbai serial bomb blasts.

They will initially review progress on the concluded third round of the bilateral eight-point composite dialogue process, comprising key issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, terrorism, confidence-building measures (CBMs) and Siachen. Then they will try to arrive at a workable formula to get the bilateral joint anti-terror mechanism off the ground.

Khan will be in India between November 12 and 15.

When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf in Havana last month, in the first high-level dialogue between the two neighbours after the July 11 attacks on Mumbai's suburban rail network, they announced the establishment of the joint anti-terror mechanism.

An official press release from the Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday said the Foreign Secretaries would meet for talks on November 13 and 14.

The Foreign Secretary-level review of the composite dialogue was earlier scheduled for the third week of July, but was called off after the Mumbai blasts that killed almost 200 people.

It was clear that until something was done to address Indian concerns about continuing cross-border terrorism, the bilateral dialogue could not be carried forward in a meaningful manner, officials said, explaining the need for the mechanism.

According to officials, the Foreign Secretaries will thrash out ways to give shape to the joint anti-terror mechanism, through which both countries will be able to offer evidence of each other's involvement in acts of terrorism.

New Delhi views the mechanism as one by which it will be able to provide Islamabad concrete evidence of its involvement in incidents such as the Mumbai blasts, and expect them to act on it.

"The mechanism will be as effective as the results it produces. Let's give it some time to produce results," a senior official said, cautioning against any expectations of great breakthroughs.

Menon, who assumed the office of Foreign Secretary on October 1, after serving as High Commissioner in Islamabad, has gone on record to say that Pakistan is also a victim of terrorism. He will attempt with his counterpart to resolve the modalities of what level of representation the mechanism will have and how it will function and so on.

The hope in New Delhi is that this mechanism would be in place and functional shortly after these talks, but no dates or details have been specified yet.

The third round of the composite dialogue process that discusses J&K conventional CBMs, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar barrage/Tulbul navigation project, terrorism, the promotion of friendly (cultural) exchanges and economic relations saw progress in improved people-to-people exchanges with over 100,000 people travelling between both countries.

First Published: Oct 17, 2006 20:52 IST