Terrorism main at Indo-Pak Foreign Sec talks

 
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New Delhi, Nov 12: Terrorism will top the agenda at the crucial round of the Foreign Secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan to be held here on November 14-15.

Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon will meet his Pakistani counterpart Riaz Mohammad Khan for the dialogue which assumes special significance as it is being held after nearly a year.

The talks will also review the third round of the Composite Dialogue Process (CDP) and prepare a roadmap for future engagement.

The talks, scheduled to be held in July, were put on hold in view of the Mumbai bomb explosions which killed nearly 185 people. India says ISI was involved in the incident.

India will hand over ''some'' evidence about ISI involvement in the bomb explosions and has made it clear that it would put Pakistan to ''test'' how it cooperates in the fight against terrorism.

''We will only share information which requires line of investigation in Pakistan. A charge-sheet has to be filed first before the evidence is given,'' a senior official said while clarifying why only ''some' evidence would be given.

He, however, asserted that it did not mean that India did not have enough evidence. India had enough of it, he said.

''We wait to see how Islamabad fulfils its January 6, 2004, commitment about stopping the flow of terrorism from its soil,'' a senior official of the External Affairs Ministry said.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said ''terrorism is an important issue because earlier talks were suspended because of the public outrage after Mumbai blasts.'' ''I would like that they should stick to the assurances (to check terrorism from their soil) which they have given,'' Mr Mukherjee told reporters on the sidelines of a conference here on Friday night.

Mr Mukherjee said the two sides would also discuss the setting up of the Joint Mechanism on Terrorism which was proposed at a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on the sidelines of the NAM summit in Cuba in September.

In Islamabad, a high-level inter-ministerial meeting was convened by the Foreign Ministry to review and finalise preparations for the peace dialogue.

The Pakistan Foreign Secretary will lead a nine-member delegation ''to discuss with his Indian counterpart the vital issues of peace and security as well as Jammu and Kashmir,'' a Pakistan High Commission official here said.

The Pakistani delegation will comprise senior Foreign Ministry officials including Additional Secretary (Asia Pacific) M. Akhtar Tufail, Additional Secretary (UN) Tariq Osman Hyder, Director-General (South Asia Division) Jalil Abbas Jilani, spokesperson and Director-General (UN) Tasnim Aslam. Director (Kashmir Affairs) Mariam Aftab, Director (India) Irfan Ahmad and Director (Foreign Secretary's Office) Moin ul Haq.

The talks will also be Mr Menon's first meeting after his appointment as the Foreign Secretary. Prior to assuming charge as the Foreign Secretary, Mr Menon was India's High Commissioner in Pakistan.

The Pakistani delegation will arrive here tomorrow for the talks. A senior official of the External Affairs Ministry said India believes the upcoming round of negotiations will be different in view of the circumstances under which these are being held after a year. ''It will be more than just a meeting. This is a round which is going to be different in view of the circumstances,'' the official said.

''Pakistan is to be seen implementing its commitment on terrorism, first made on January 6, 2004.'' The official maintained that India had ''credible'' evidence about Pak-based terror groups' involvement in terrorist incidents not just in Mumbai, but in other parts of the country.

''We will see what is the forward movement.'' ''Let's see...we will put them to test,'' he said and added that India would not like to pre-judge what Pakistan would do.

''Our job is to get Pakistan to do something to stop terrorism.

This is a central issue which must be addressed.'' Referring to the entire peace process with Pakistan, the official said it was a ''three-legged process.'' One was Pakistan's commitment about stopping the flow of terror from its soil, the second was the resolution of all outstanding issues including Jammu and Kashmir and the third, attempt to build people-to-people contact which is more important than resolving disputes.

The third aspect would make relations much more comfortable between the two countries and their people.

To a question on India's reaction to terror outfits changing their names, the official said the main issue was terrorism. ''For us, terrorism is terrorism whether any group changes its name,'' he added.

UNI

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