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Positive developments between India, Pak: Menon

July 16, 2003 19:21 IST

India's new high commissioner to Pakistan Shiv Shankar Menon on Wednesday said certain 'positive' developments have taken place between the two nations. 

Talking to Indian journalists after taking over at the high commission in Islamabad, Menon said he would be meeting Pakistan Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokar informally on Thursday to discuss the normalisation process initiated by the two countries in the past three months.

Menon, who is expected to present his credentials to President Pervez Musharraf later this month, said in the coming weeks and months he would be focussing on building a relationship between the two countries to take forward the process initiated by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Asserting that certain positive developments have taken place between the two countries in the aftermath of Vajpayee's initiative, he said  "we will be looking for some more improvements".

Menon will also hold a formal meeting with the chief of protocol of the Pakistan Foreign Office tomorrow. The High Commissioner said that in the coming days he plans to hold extensive consultations with Pakistan officials and interact with a cross section of Pakistan society. "I want to meet as many people from various walks of life as possible".

Menon said he was warmly received by Pakistan officials at Wagah border when he crossed over to Pakistan. "I was well received with all due courtesies".

The Indian envoy would be looking at managing the rising workload at the High Commission with the existing
staff, which was cut by half during the last two years  due to military tensions and spate of expulsions by both the
counties.   The mission strength has been reduced from 110 to  around 46.

Referring to the problem, Menon said he planned to  manage with the existing staff as the two countries have to work out modalities to increase the staff strengths in their respective missions.

The high commission is also facing problems on the visa front with the staff at the commission struggling to cope
up with the rush. The demand for Indian visas has gone up several folds after the two countries resumed bus services.
The High Commission is currently issuing 25 visas a day and is expected to increase this further in the coming weeks.


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