Cabinet took collective decision to restart talks with Pakistan: Chidambaram

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New Delhi, Feb.19 (ANI): Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Friday said that the Cabinet had taken a collective decision to restart foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan.

Interacting with the Women's Press Corps in the capital, Chidambaram said: "As far as talks with Pakistan is concerned, the entire government is on the same page over talks with Pakistan. And it was collective decision of the Cabinet."

"You don't have to ask every minister separately on talks with Pakistan. The Foreign Minister has already said that foreign secretary-level talks are about talks and pending issues related to 26/11 investigations will come up," he added.

To question whether New Delhi would raise the issue of getting Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief and suspected Lashkar-e-Toiba leader Hafiz Saeed behind bars or for interrogation to India for his alleged role in 26/11, Chidambaram said: "The Hafiz Saeed issue will also come up during the FS talks, and there has been some forward movement on the issue."

With just a week left for the Foreign Secretary-level talks, the agenda of discussions is still unclear.

Indian Foreign Minister S M Krishna has categorically said terrorism will remain at the core of discussions, but added that Pakistan is free to take up any issue that it is concerned about.

Islamabad, however, is seeking more clarity on Krishna"s statement and is calling for the inclusion of the Kashmir and the water disputes in the talks.

Government sources here, however, have explained that the talks cannot be described as a 'monologue". India"s focus will remain on terrorism and Pakistan will raise issues of its concern, they said.

Sources have told ANI that India is also likely to handover evidence of previous terror attacks allegedly emanating from Pakistani soil, including the recent attack on the German Bakery in Pune.

Krishna"s statement that next week"s talks should not be seen as a resumption of the composite dialogue, has concerned Islamabad. Diplomatic sources here have told ANI that Pakistan is viewing the resumption of talks as the first step to resumption of composite dialogue.

Government sources here explain that the composite dialogue will not be just confined to foreign secretary-level talks, but will be and can be pursued at different levels.

The composite dialogue process began shortly after the Islamabad SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) summit in 2004. It comprised of eight key components, including Jammu and Kashmir, confidence-building measures, defence, trade and water that have plagued bilateral relations for decades.

Experts and commentators here believe that if no framework of dialogue is composed before the talks, it will be difficult to achieve anything. Others are viewing it as a good start to end he logjam in the stalled relationship. (ANI)

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