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India must give new dates for talks: Pakistan

The comments came a week after Islamabad detained and then expelled Indian diplomat Deepak Kaul alleging he was a spy.

india Updated: Aug 11, 2006 16:15 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Pakistan has asked India to give new dates for talks among the foreign secretaries that got postponed following the terror attacks in Mumbai last month.

"The government of Pakistan would like to carry this process forward but now the ball is in the Indian court. They have to give us new dates for the talks," Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri said after a 45-minute meeting Thursday with Indian high commissioner Shivshankar Menon.

The comments came a week after Islamabad detained and then expelled Indian diplomat Deepak Kaul alleging he was a spy. India retaliated by expelling a Pakistani diplomat.

Kasuri said the tit-for-tat expulsion of diplomats was "unfortunate" but it would not be allowed to come in the way of resumption of the bilateral dialogue.

Approached by the media separately, both Kasuri and Menon sought to ridicule the pessimism on both sides of the border.

Kasuri said: "I don't agree with the reports being circulated by the doomsday brigade."

Dawn said Menon sounded ,"visibly irritated" on being reached on telephone.

In a jibe at the media, Menon said: "First, such euphoria was created and now this doomsday scenario. There's need for some sense of proportion.

The Indian high commissioner (fails) to understand why the postponement of just one meeting created such despondency and panic."

"We both have leaderships that sincerely want the peace process to succeed," he said.

Kasuri declined to divulge what transpire between him and Menon, the newspaper said, adding they met probably "to get a sense of the direction of the dialogue process in the wake of India's belligerent posturing towards Pakistan".

Kasuri indirectly conveyed that India also seemed committed to peace.

Terming the ceasefire on the Line of Control that divides Kashmir between the two countries as one of the biggest achievements under the confidence building process between Pakistan and India, he saw no reason for it to be under threat.

He added: "I have not heard from anybody responsible in the two countries talking about undoing what has been done so far."

Conceding that the peace process was not easy, he underlined that it required patience and steadfastness.

However, he expressed disappointment that while both countries had moved ahead in confidence-building measures, there had been no movement on conflict resolution.

He said Pakistan understood that the Indian government had to put off the foreign secretary-level talks due to domestic political compulsions after the Mumbai train bombings that killed over 200 people.

Kasuri pointed out that there was a large peace constituency in both countries and the peace process enjoyed bipartisan political support on both sides.

Menon remained noncommittal on when India was expected to give new dates of the foreign-secretary talks, and remarked: "We'll see."

First Published: Aug 11, 2006 16:15 IST