Resumption of talks with Pak a ''conscious decision'': Krishna

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Betwa Sharma

New York, Feb 11 (PTI) India''s move to resume talks withPakistan on all outstanding issues was a "conscious decision",External Affairs Minister S M Krishna today said, adding thatit was "necessary" for both sides to also discuss Afghanistan.

"It is a conscious decision that was made," Krishna, whoarrived here yesterday on a two-day visit, told PTI.

Krishna, who is here on his first visit to the UnitedNations after India became a non-permanent member for atwo-year term last month, said: "We will have to sort out allthe outstanding issues between our two countries."

"We are hopeful the talks between the foreignsecretaries will go in a direction that is positive and pavethe way for a bigger meeting (between the foreign ministers)whenever that will be," he added.

The composite dialogue between the two sides were put onhold after 10 Pakistani terrorist carried out coordinatedattacks in Mumbai in November 2008, killing 166 people. Beforeentering into talks with Pakistan again, India wanted theperpetrators of the attack to be brought to justice.

Responding to why India was now agreeing to talks,Krishna said, "Nothing is static in relationships betweencountries."

The minister, however, stressed that New Delhi stillexpected Islamabad to act expeditiously on the Mumbai attacks.

"India expects that Pakistan will take continue to takesteps to bring to justice all those perpetrators of theMumbai attacks," he said.

"Having taken that position it is necessary for our twocountries to engage on various other issues where we will beable to come to reasonable agreements, which will bebeneficial to the people for both the countries," he added.

The stage was set for renewed talks when ForeignSecretary Nirupama Rao met her Pakistani counterpart SalmanBashir in Thimphu on Sunday.

The talks will include issues like Siachen, Kashmir,counter-terrorism, peace and security, economic issues,humanitarian issues, the Wullar Barrage/Tulbul NavigationProject and Afghanistan.

Krishna also said that it was "necessary" for Indiaand Pakistan to discuss Afghanistan.

"I think it was necessary for us to discussAfghanistan... India has been playing a very positive role intrying to build Afghanistan in terms of our volunteers whohave gone there for capacity building and so I thinkAfghanistan had to be included," he said.

Afghanistan is the new item on the agenda fordiscussion.

So far, Pakistan has been wary of India''s ties withKabul. Islamabad continuously questions why New Delhi has somany consulates in Afghanistan. Pakistan also accuses India ofusing Afghanistan as a base to establish a military presenceagainst it on its eastern border.

A recent report published by New York University claimedthat concerns of Kabul and New Delhi becoming too close in thepost-2001 period, was one reason why Pakistan was hesitant toact against Taliban and Al Qaeda.

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