Balochistan and Kashmir to be raised in talks with India: Pak Foreign Secretary

Posted By: Staff
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New Delhi, Feb.25 (ANI): Barely minutes before the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan are to meet for crucial and significant day-long talks at Hyderabad House here, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said both Balochistan and Kashmir will be on the agenda for Thursday's talks.

Bashir made these remarks shortly before leaving his hotel for the talks venue. Bashir is leading a four member delegation in the talks to be held with Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.

He said he had come to New Delhi with the hope of taking talks with India on key bilateral issues, including Kashmir and Balochistan, forward.

Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Abdul Basit told ANI and other media that Islamabad will be discussing Kashmir in the talks as it saw the issue as being a core one.

While the Indian side is expected to focus on the issue of terrorism, and what Pakistan is doing to stop such activities on its soil, the Pakistan side has said it will be putting all issues of bilateral importance on the table, and expects New Delhi to respond positively.

A joint statement is unlikely to be issued. Both Foreign Secretaries Nirupama Rao and Salman Bashir will, however, be addressing separate press conferences here this afternoon after the talks.

Bashir is here with a five-member delegation. Five members led by Rao will also represent the Indian side.

After arriving in New Delhi, Bashir said: "It's good to be back. I am here to bridge the differences and hope for a positive outcome."

A private channel quoted Bashir as saying that "Pakistan has no fixed agenda. Just looking for a way forward for the talks."

Bashir also said he would discuss any issue, including terror.

During his stay, Bashir is also scheduled to call on External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and the National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon.

Earlier, speaking in Beijing, on Wednesday, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi termed the February 25 Foreign Secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan as an 'exploratory' meeting and insisted that Islamabad wants a meaningful dialogue with New Delhi.

Qureshi also recalled that India, through a joint communiqué, had agreed that acts of terrorism would not impede the process of dialogue between both nations.

Qureshi said the ball is now India's court, and the outcome the talks would largely depend on New Delhi's response and approach. (ANI)

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