Foreign Secretaries of India, Pak to meet tomorrow

Ajay Kaul

Thimphu, Feb 5 (PTI) Making a fresh attempt to restartthe bilateral dialogue process, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Raoand her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir will meet heretomorrow during which the Indian side is expected to seek anupdate on the Mumbai attacks investigations and trial.

Rao and Bashir, who are here for the SAARC meeting ofForeign Secretaries and Council of Ministers, are expected totake stock of the bilateral ties and discuss whether someconfidence-building initiatives could be taken.

This will be the first meeting between the ForeignSecretaries after the failed talks between the ForeignMinisters in July last year in Pakistan.

India, while keeping low the expectations from themeeting, has made it clear that it was ready to havediscussions on all outstanding issues with Pakistan butthrough a step-by-step approach.

The resumption of full-fledged dialogue, which wasstalled after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, would, however, dependon the progress by Pakistan to punish all those behind the26/11 strikes, sources said.

At tomorrow''s meeting, Rao is expected to seek an updatefrom Bashir on the investigations and trial in the Mumbaiattacks case in Pakistan.

She is also expected to seek a response from Bashir onIndia''s request for voice samples of the persons in Pakistanwho were heard coordinating the 26/11 attacks.

Setting the tone for the meeting, Rao said yesterday inDelhi, "We hope that both the governments come to satisfactoryconclusion about what is required so that the trial could besatisfactorily concluded because justice has to be done."

She made the comments after meeting Home Minister PChidambaram during which they are understood to have discussedissues related to the Mumbai attacks.

Noting that 26/11 trial in Pakistan was "one of theissues under discussion between the two governments,particularly between the Interior Ministry of Pakistan and ourHome Ministry," she said New Delhi and Islamabad have been incorrespondence about the exchange of evidence that is requiredfor the trial to go forward.

On her meeting with Bashir, she said India will see howit can pick up the thread once again.

"We are going to meet after a certain interregnum, a fewmonths after last meeting. So, we will see how we can pick upthe thread once again. I am sure we will exchange ideas. Let''shope that we would be able to pick up convergence of views.

Every such meeting is an attempt to build greatercomprehension of each other''s position and deeperunderstanding," the Foreign Secretary said. (More) PTI AKK

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