India, Pak discuss Kashmir during talks

India and Pakistan on Friday discussed Jammu and Kashmir during the crucial Foreign Secretary-level talks.

Islamabad: India and Pakistan on Friday discussed Jammu and Kashmir during the crucial Foreign Secretary-level talks here, a day after Islamabad insisted
that it remained the "core" issue for it.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, who arrived here
yesterday on a two-day visit, began talks with her Pakistani
counterpart Salman Bashir on Kashmir.

The two-day talks have been divided in three segments
under which the issue of peace and security, including
confidence building measures, was discussed yesterday. After
Jammu and Kashmir, the talks will be held on promotion of
friendly exchanges.

Today, the two sides first held restricted talks in which
Rao was accompanied by Indian High Commissioner Sharat
Sabharwal and Joint Secretary (Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran) Yash
Sinha, which were followed by the delegation-level parleys.

Pakistan`s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina
Rabbani said last evening that her country was looking for
"forward movement" in the ongoing Foreign Secretary-level
parleys, hoping that the two sides would not get caught in the
status quo mode.

"What we don`t want is to get caught in the status quo
mode where we just reiterate our positions. Hopefully, this
meeting will give us more confidence to move forward," she told
reporters.

When pointed out that there was a conflict over the
issues of core concerns between the two countries with India
calling terrorism as its prime concern and Pakistan sticking
to Jammu and Kashmir, Rabbani said "both can meet if both
agree that terrorism and Jammu and Kashmir are the core
concerns."

"If Kashmir is not core concern, then what is core
concern?" Rabbani asked.

During the first round of talks yesterday, India`s
concerns over terrorism and slow pace of Mumbai trial were
discussed. The Samjhuta bombing case also came up, with both
sides holding "substantive" deliberations in a "forward
looking" approach.

"All aspects relating to peace and security have been
discussed and terrorism is an issue which is an issue
confronting both the countries and of course its very relevant
to peace and security," Vishnu Prakash, official spokesperson
in the Ministry of External Affairs, said last evening.

PTI

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