Pak keen to sign new visa agreement during Krishna's visit



Islamabad: Pakistan is keen to sign a new visa agreement during External Affairs Minister SM Krishna's visit to Islamabad during September 7-9 for talks with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, official sources said on Friday.

Krishna will visit Pakistan to review the last round of the bilateral dialogue process with Khar, the Foreign Office announced today.

He will visit Pakistan for "holding a review meeting with the Foreign Minister at her invitation", an official statement said.

Sources in the Foreign Office told PTI that the Pakistani side wanted the new visa agreement to be signed during Krishna's visit.

The sources said work on the pact had been completed. The visa agreement was set to be signed during a meeting of the Home and Interior Secretaries of the two countries in May but it was held up at the last minute due to opposition from Interior Minister Rehman Malik.

Talking to reporters on the margins of the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Tehran today, Malik said Pakistan had finalised work on the new visa regime with India and hoped the agreement would be signed during the Indian External Affairs Minister's visit to Pakistan.

However, it is believed that a formal understanding on the signing of the agreement is yet to be hammered out by both sides.

Indian officials were surprised when the signing of the agreement was put off at the last minute during Home Secretary RK Singh's visit to Islamabad in May.

A joint statement issued after the talks between the Home and Interior Secretaries said both sides had welcomed the finalisation of a new visa agreement and "agreed to sign it at an early date".

The Pakistani side informed the Indian team that "some internal approvals were under process and the agreement will be signed once they are in place".

At the time, Interior Minister Malik said the agreement involved important issues and should be concluded at the political level.

PTI