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Pakistan, India agree on Foreign Secretary level talks

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NEW DELHI: Pakistan and India have agreed to hold Foreign Secretary level talks in New Delhi on 21—22nd July (2008) to launch the 5th round of Composite Dialogue to resolve the outstanding issues. It was decided at the talks between Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukharjee held in Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Friday immediately after the arrival of Mr. Qureshi in the Indian capital. The two Foreign Secretaries during their two day parleys will discuss Jammu and Kashmir, peace and Security besides reviewing other aspects of bilateral relations.

Later , addressing a joint press conference, Shah Mehmood Qureshi said time has come to make forward movement on all issues and make the dialogue process result oriented. He said he has come to India with a positive approach and a realistic agenda to make progress on various issues as the people of the two countries and the masses of South Asia look to the governments of the two countries to play their role to transform the region in to a stable and prosperous part of the world.

Emphasizing on political will to take tangible steps for resolution of issues, the Foreign Minister said the people of the two countries have tremendous desire for normalization of relations between the two countries. Mr. Qureshi said in Pakistan, the ruling government and all other political parties have complete consensus on the ongoing dialogue process and they all want to have better relations with India leading to focusing on the betterment of socio –economic conditions of the people.

To a question, Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the two sides were near to resolution of Siachen and Sir Creek and he was of the opinion that these are resolvable and doable matters. To a question regarding CBMs on LoC , the Foreign Minister said they will review the implementation of these steps and take more steps to ensure that benefits are reaching to the suffering people living across the LoC. He added they will take more CBMs if needed to facilitate the people.

Regarding IPI gas pipeline project, Mr. Qureshi said both countries are energy deficit and implementation of the project would give enormous benefits economically and strategically as it will make the two countries interdependent, leading to consolidation of the ongoing peace process. The Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukharjee while giving the details of agreed points in the talks said the Technical Working Group on cross LoC Confidence Building Measures will meet in Islamabad on 10 July, 2008 to concretize decisions regarding bus services, trade and truck services across the LoC announced in May, 2008.

He said the respective Deputy Chairs of the Indian and Pakistan Planning Commission had felt that an institutional mechanism for regular dialogue and exchange of views between them would be useful. The modalities and framework can be evolved through mutual consultations. He said after completing their visit to jails in Pakistan, the India Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners will now visit jails in India this month (July) to make further recommendations with regard to issues concerning prisoners and fishermen in custody.

The two sides agreed that the work of the Judicial Committee has proved to be an effective way to proceed with the issues arising from prisoners and fishermen in custody and hoped that the implementation of the recommendations of the Committee would speedily address the humanitarian aspects of this issue. Mukharjee said we expect that the 5th Round of this process, to be launched next month, will be even more fruitful than the earlier rounds.

He said our discussions covered different aspects of our relationship, including economic and commercial cooperation, political issues, promoting people-to-people contact as also a very useful exchange of views on the regional situation. Describing the installation of elected govt in Pakistan as a positive factor, Mukharjee said it is beneficial not only for our bilateral relationship but also for the whole region.

He expressed the hope that in the Fifth Round of the Composite Dialogue, concrete achievements will continue and pave the way for a qualitative transformation of our bilateral relations. Later Shah Mahmood Qureshi called on the India Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.

While The PML(N) Quaid and former Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif has called for peaceful ties between Pakistan and India on the basis of equity, justice and mutual respect for each other. He made this call in his video message to the two-day conference on Pak-India relations which began in London yesterday. The event organized by a private Indian Media outlet, is being attended by politicians, scholars, opinion-makers, ex-military men and members of the civil society from both the countries. The participants stressed the need for resolving all outstanding issues between Pakistan and India including the Kashmir issue through dialogue.

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Rubab Saleemhttp://www.rubabsaleem.com
Rubab Saleem is Editor of Pakistan Times
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