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India, Pak to set up anti-terror inst mechanism

Written by: Staff

Havana, Sept 17: Seeking to put the normalisation process back on track, India and Pakistan today decided to resume the stalled Foreign Secretary-level talks between the two countries and set up a joint anti-terrorism institutional mechanism to identify and implement counter-terrorism inititiatives and investigations.

At the much-awaited meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on the sidelines of the 14th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit here, the two sides also decided to continue the joint search for mutually acceptable options for a peaceful negotiated settlement of all bilateral issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, in a sincere and purposeful manner.

In a Joint Statement issued after the meeting, the first between the two leaders in a year, they said that the peace process must be maintained and that its success was important for both countries and the future of the entire region.

"In this context, they directed their Foreign Secretaries to resume the composite dialogue at the earliest possible," the statement said.

The Joint Statement was read out by Dr Singh as Gen Musharraf sat alongside.

Earlier, the two leaders had a one-to-one meeting for a little over an hour during which they had "cordial, frank and detailed exchange of views" on all apsects of India-Pakistan relations.

"Desirous of carrying forward the dialogue process, the leaders reiterated their commitments and determination to implement the Joint Statements of January 6, 2004, September 24, 2004, April 18, 2005 and September 14, 2005," the statement said.

Dr Singh was the first to arrive at the Protocol House here, the venue of the meeting. Gen Musharraf reached there a few minutes later.

The two leaders shook hands warmly and posed for photographers.

They introduced each other to members of their delegation before acceding to the photographers' request for another round of handshakes.

Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma, National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and Foreign Secretary-designate Shiv Shankar Menon were at hand to assist the Prime Minister.

The Pakistani team included Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, junior minister for women's affairs Sumaira Malik and Foreign Secretary Riaz Khan.

"On the Jammu and Kashmir issue, there have been useful discussions. There is a need to build on convergences and narrow down divergences," the Joint Statement said.

The statement noted that the two leaders met in the aftermath of the July 11 Mumbai blasts in which over 180 people were killed.

"They strongly condemned all acts of terrorism and agreed that terrorism is a scourge that needs to be effectively dealt with. They decided to put in place an India-Pakistan anti-terrorism institutional mechanism to identify and implement counter- terrorism initiatives and investigations," the one-page, six-paragraph statement said.


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