India prepared to discuss all issues with Pak: Rao

India is prepared to "discuss all outstanding issues" with Pakistan, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, to ensure stability in the South Asian region, a top Indian diplomat said here.

Last Updated: Sep 21, 2010, 11:23 AM IST

Boston: India is prepared to "discuss
all outstanding issues" with Pakistan, including the issue of
Jammu and Kashmir, to ensure stability in the South Asian
region, a top Indian diplomat said here.

"The issue of Jammu & Kashmir comes up in our
relationship with Pakistan and we`ve said very clearly, very
confidently and very transparently that we are prepared to
discuss all outstanding issues with Pakistan," Foreign
Secretary Nirupama Rao said on Monday.

Rao added that India wants to "persevere in our
dialogue with Pakistan. It is not about segmenting this
dialogue or taking away the complicated issues from it saying
we are not ready to discuss it.

“That is certainly not our approach. We want to discuss all the outstanding issues and that will also include the issue of Jammu and Kashmir."

The top diplomat, who was in Washington earlier to
discuss US President Barack Obama`s upcoming India visit in November,
stressed that Kashmir is an internal matter as far as India is
concerned.

"It is an internal affair because it (Kashmir) is an
integral part of India."

She said India is "determined to persevere in our
dialogue with Pakistan to resolve outstanding issues so that
our region will be stable and so that the rationale of
economic development in an atmosphere of peace, for all of
South Asia, remains our steadfast goal."

Later referring to the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, Rao said it`s an issue that is very much a part of what "we want to
speak to Pakistan about. On Mumbai, closure is needed."

She said Pakistan`s Interior Minister Rehman Malik is
in touch with the Indian Home Ministry about the 26/11 trial.

"The trial has moved slowly. There has not been much
progress to show out of it." In the city to deliver the
Harish Mahindra Memorial Lecture at Harvard University on
`India`s Global Role`, Rao said India wants to create an
economic environment with its neighbours since a peaceful
neighbourhood is mandatory for the "realisation of our own
vision of economic growth".

However, India`s vision of an enhanced South Asian
cooperation for development is challenged by violent extremism
and terrorism which originates in "our region and finds
sustenance and sanctuary there", Rao added.

"Our relationship with Pakistan has been complicated
by the issue of terrorism and the need for Pakistan to take
ameliorative action to eradicate terrorism against India.

“Despite this threat, we understand well the Kautilyan
advice that a great power loses stature if it remains bogged
down in neighbourhood entanglements," the Foreign Secretary
said.

Terrorists have repeatedly sought to undermine India`s
security and economic progress "aided and abetted by forces
beyond our border," she said, adding that terror groups
implacably opposed to India continue to recruit, train and
plot attacks from "safe havens across our borders".

Pointing out that the threat from terrorism cannot be
dealt with through national efforts alone, Rao said it is time
the international community "works towards early adoption of a
Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that was
tabled at the UN over a decade ago".

On Afghanistan, Rao said India is "supportive" of the
US efforts to fight terrorism and bring stability in the
war-ravaged country.

"We have a direct interest in Afghanistan, not
because we see it as a theatre of rivalry with Pakistan but
because of the growing fusion of terrorist groups that
operate from Afghanistan and Pakistan and their activities in
India," she added.

India`s USD 1.3 billion assistance to Afghanistan
has helped build vital civil infrastructure and develop human
resources and capacity in areas of education, health,
agriculture and rural development.

Rao said India will stand by this commitment despite
the grave threat under which its personnel and people work in
Afghanistan.

PTI