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India-Pakistan talks: Terror, Kashmir on table (Lead)

June 20th, 2010 SindhToday

New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) With four days to go for the foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan, India Sunday said it will focus on its continuing concerns on cross-border terror and adopt “an exploratory approach” to work out steps to reduce the post-Mumbai attack trust deficit between the two countries.

When Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao holds talks with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir in Islamabad Thursday, India will press for the speedy trial of the seven 26/11 suspects in Pakistan, concrete action against Hafiz Saeed, the suspected mastermind of the Mumbai carnage, and against those groups based in Pakistan that nurture anti-India agenda.

New Delhi will also take up a spike in cross-border infiltration and ceasefire violations that are marring the spirit of thaw that followed the talks between the leaders of the two countries in Thimphu nearly two months ago.

India is going into these talks with the confidence and approach that all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, will be discussed with an intention to find steps to reduce trust deficit between the two countries even if they are modest, official sources said here.

These confidence-building steps could consist of an early meeting of the judicial committee on prisoners, enhanced commercial and economic ties and cross-border confidence building measures (CBMs).

Rao will leave for Islamabad Wednesday along with Home Secretary G.K. Pillai, who will participate in the meetings of senior officials of the SAARC countries.

Rao’s talks with Bashir will be followed by Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s participation in the SAARC meeting of home ministers in Islamabad Saturday.

Outlining India’s approach towards the crucial talks that will firm up the agenda for dialogue between the foreign ministers of the two countries July 15 in Islamabad, the sources added that although all issues will be on the table, New Delhi will stress on its continuing concerns over terrorism.

“We are going there not in accusatory mode, but we are going there in an exploratory mode,” the sources said.

In this spirit, India is hoping that the Pakistani side will re-affirm the progress made by the two sides during their composite dialogue 2004-2007 and in their back-channel talks on Kashmir that will encourage the two sides to pick up threads from where they left.

If there is a clear signal that the Pakistani civilian government is fully cognizant of the progress made during that period, it would certainly be a trust-building step, the sources pointed out.

Speaking at a seminar recently, Rao had suggested pursuing “creative solutions” on complex issues like Kashmir, based on progress made by the two countries either through composite dialogue or back-channel diplomacy.

The two sides are likely to announce some confidence building measures at the July 15 meeting to signal progress in the direction of resuming their dialogue that got stalled after the Mumbai attack, the sources said.

From New Delhi’s standpoint, terror will stop the agenda.

“The intelligence reports about terror attacks being planned across the border have not ceased coming. What would happen if another attack were to take place? It would have very damaging impact on our dialogue and relations,” the sources said.

The Indian side indicated that its effort will be to ensure that the dialogue is not broken off by addressing the issue of terrorism that has complicated the relations between the two countries.

The Pakistani side must ensure that there are no attacks against Indian nationals, Indian interests and India, the sources said.

The discussion on terrorism will also include attacks on Indian projects and people in Afghanistan in the last few years.

India Friday handed over an 11th dossier to Pakistan, in response to issues raised by the latter in the six dossiers relating to the Mumbai attack, April 25.

The sources disclosed that the 11th dossier contains copies of the deposition of Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone gunman captured during the 26/11 attack, and extensive evidence of Saeed’s complicity in the Mumbai carnage.

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