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Indo-Pak talks begin in Islamabad

K J M Varma in Islamabad | February 16, 2004 12:28 IST
Last Updated: February 16, 2004 12:43 IST

India and Pakistan on Monday began talks in Islamabad to discuss the modalities to kick start a composite dialogue to resolve all bilateral disputes.

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The talks began at 1130 IST at the Pakistan Foreign Office between Joint Secretary in External Affairs Ministry
Arun Kumar Singh and Director for South Asia in Pakistan Foreign Office Jalil Abbas Jilani.

This is the first official level talks between India and Pakistan after Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and President Pervez Musharraf met on the sidelines of last month's SAARC summit in Islamabad.

Singh is assisted by Gitesh Sharma, a counsellor at the Indian high commission in Islamabad.

The foreign secretaries of the two countries will meet for a day on February 18 to give final touches to the processes of composite dialogue.

Foreign Secretary Shashank is arriving in Islamabad on Tuesday. He will meet his Pakistani counterpart Riaz Khokhar on Wednesday.

There are strong indications from both camps that the scope of the composite dialogue will be expanded to include nuclear related confidence building measures, nuclear proliferation and normalisation of trade relations.

Both India and Pakistan have described the talks that got underway on Monday as 'talks for talks.'

The two countries had identified an eight-point composite dialogue process in 1997.

The 1997 agenda included peace and security, Kashmir, Siachen, Wullar Barrage, Sir Creek, terrorism and drug trafficking, economic and commercial cooperation and friendly exchanges.

The two countries last agreed on a composite dialogue in June six years ago and worked out a framework for it. Then, the two countries had agreed that issues relating to peace, security and Kashmir would be discussed at the level of
foreign secretaries and the rest by top officials of the concerned ministries.

The two foreign secretaries met once subsequently to discuss the Kashmir issue, but the dialogue failed to take off due to a series of events culminating in a military coup by President Pervez Musharraf.


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