Indo-Pak Foreign Secys unlock dialogue

The Foreign Secys met to put their stalled dialogue process back on track.

Updated: Feb 07, 2011, 23:01 PM IST

Thimphu: India and Pakistan on Sunday agreed on the need for constructive talks to resolve all outstanding issues after a fresh round of parleys in an attempt to infuse new life to their stalled dialogue process.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir met in the Bhutanese capital for 90 minutes and had "useful and frank" discussions.

The meeting on the sidelines of the SAARC meeting of Foreign Secretaries came six months after a failed round of talks between External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Islamabad.

Rao and Bashir, who were also meeting after a gap of six months, had also held an informal exchange briefly last night.

"The Foreign Secretaries had useful and frank discussions... They agreed on the need for constructive dialogue between India and Pakistan to resolve all outstanding issues," MEA spokesman Vishnu Prakash said after the meeting.

"They affirmed the need to carry forward the dialogue process," he said.

A day before the meeting, India and Pakistan had exchanged barbs over the issue of the Samjhauta blasts and the Mumbai terror attacks, but the two Foreign Secretaries chose to set a positive tone ahead of their talks.

Both Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir said separately that they would endeavour to find a way forward for continued engagement between the two countries.

"We are resuming our contact after interregnum of some time. We have a number of issues to be discussed. As we have always said that dialogue between India and Pakistan is necessary and a must if we are to satisfactorily resolve the
outstanding issues between our two countries," she said.

"We have a number of outstanding issues. So, we are going into this with an open mind and constructive attitude," Rao said.

Noting that her Pakistani counterpart would also have a "number of ideas" to discuss, Rao said, "so, this is going to be exploratory discussion and we hope that through this process, we can find a way forward."

Bashir, on his part, said he was looking forward to his meeting with Rao. "My expectations are that we should be working towards continued engagement," he said.

He said the two Foreign Secretaries would be preparing for engagement between their Foreign Ministers.

The Indian delegation that went into the talks includes Joint Secretary, Pakistan Division Y K Sinha, Indian High Commisioner to Pakistan Sarat Sabharwal and Joint
Secretary XP Division Vishnu Prakash.

From the Pakistani side the representatives included High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik and Foreign Office Director Genral South Asia Afrasiyab.

PTI