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Pakistan, Indian foreign ministers open talks

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, July 15, IRNA -- Pakistani FM Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and his Indian counterpart, S.M Krishna,Thursday opened talks to work out the modalities of "restoring trust and confidence" in the relationship and to pave the way for a "substantive dialogue", officials said.

India had put a pause on the bilateral dialogue with Pakistan over the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, its commercial center, which killed nearly 170 people.

India had blamed the Mumbai attacks on Pakistan-based group ?Lashkar-e-Taiba’ (LeT) and sources said the Indian side will seek details of the investigation of the Pakistani suspects.

Pakistan has put under trial seven LeT members, including the group’s operations chief Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, on the charges of providing training, financial support, accommodation, equipment and communications gear to the 10 men who attacked Mumbai on November 26, 2008.

Mr Krishna is leading a 15-member delegation in the parlays and both foreign ministers will speak to reporters after the talks, the Foreign Office said. Sources say the talks will continue for two hours and later both sides will have workig lunch.

Contact between the nuclear Pakistan and India has intensified in recent months, seen partly as a result of the United States pressure for a solution in the volatile region.

The Pakistani and Indian prime ministers met in Thimphu, Bhutan in April, 2010, on the sidelines of a regional summit and mandated them to suggest measures for restoring trust and confidence and to revive the ?composite dialogue’ process.

Officials said there is no fixed agenda for talks and Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said this week that ?all issues will be discussed and priority will be that the meeting leads to a sustained and uninterrupted engagement between the two countries’. The Indian side had hinted that they want to raise the issue of terrorism and Mumbai attacks, diplomatic sources said.

Pakistan will raise situation in the Indian-controlled Kashmir where violence has claimed several lives in recent weeks but the Indian foreign minister said ahead of the talks that Kashmir is India’s internal issue and the Indian government is only answerable to own institutions.

Sources said that both sides are expected to announce more meetings, especially in areas like trade, commerce, release of prisoners and cross-Line of Control (LoC) CBMs. LoC divides Pakistan and India in the disputed Kashmir region.

There are some hopes that the dialogue process could move forward but Abdul Basit said that ?dramatic results could not be expected in one meeting’.

“But it will be a great success if we agreed on the engagement process,” the Pakistani spokesman said, while referring to the complex relations and decades of lack of trust between Pakistan and India.

The Indian foreign minister is scheduled to call on President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani on Thursday. He will also meet Pakistani political leaders including leaders of the main opposition Muslim League (N) party.

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