India, Pak to unlock dialogue process in Thimphu

Rao and Bashir are expected to meet on the sidelines of the Standing Committee meeting of the eight-nation SAARC in the Bhutanese capital Thimphu February 6-8.

New Delhi: Downplaying expectations from the meeting between the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan in Bhutan next month, Indian officials on Friday said it was an exploratory mission where the two sides hope to unlock the dialogue process.

"Don`t expect anything dramatic out of it. We are trying to unlock the process," an official, who did not want to be named, said here when asked about the talks between Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and Pakistan`s Salman Bashir.

"It`s basically an exploratory mission," they said.

Rao and Bashir are expected to meet on the sidelines of the Standing Committee meeting of the eight-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in the Bhutanese capital Thimphu February 6-8.

The talks could set the stage for a meeting between External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi and a subsequent visit by Qureshi to New Delhi.

Officials said Qureshi`s visit will be on the agenda. "We hope that dates can be finalised."

Officials said the issue of terrorism was certainly important, but New Delhi was ready to discuss all issues. India, officials said, would focus on humanitarian measures like the meeting of the judicial committee on prisoners and cross-border movement of people.

The meeting between the foreign secretaries will be the first official talks to revive the dialogue process since the meeting between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan broke down in bitter mutual recriminations in Islamabad July 15 last year.

IANS

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