Delhi cautiously optimistic on eve of Indo-Pak talks

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New Delhi, Feb.24 (ANI): On the eve of the foreign secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan, New Delhi is cautiously optimistic about the outcome of the deliberations.

The apparent trust deficit that increased after the 26/11 terror strike on Mumbai and was further substantiated after the bomb blast at the German Bakery in Pune earlier this month has made India skeptical about how progressive the day-long talks will be.

Government sources here said: "We are going to talk with an open mind, but are conscious of the limitations imposed by the trust deficit post-Mumbai."

Sources, however, declined to pre-judge the outcome.

India is maintaining that future talks with Pakistan will depend on what Islamabad does to stop terrorists from using its soil to mount attacks on civilian targets in India. Sources told ANI that India will try to clear the air on all misgivings that have plagued bilateral ties between both countries.

While emphasizing that the February 25 talks should not and will not be seen as a restart of the composite dialogue process, the Indian side has indicated that New Delhi's willingness to take that first step should not be doubted.

Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir has said that he is here to bridge the gap and he expects a positive outcome to the talks.

The likelihood of a joint statement after the talks is remote.

The talks agenda is still unclear. The Indian side has said it will focus on terrorism, while the Pakistan side has said that it wants to have a discussion on all relevant issues affecting the two countries, including Kashmir and the water dispute.

India is likely to handover voice records of the 26.11 culprits and is also likely to raise the issue of the killing of Sikhs in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir is meeting Hurriyat leaders here this evening, including Tehreek-e-Hurriyat chief Sayeed Ali Shah Gilani, the chairman of the moderate faction of the Hurriyat, irwaiz Omar Farooq and JKLF leader Yasin Malik. He is expected to extend a fresh invitation to them to visit Pakistan, diplomatic sources said. By Naveen Kapoor (ANI)

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