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Indo-Pak talks in Islamabad from Feb 16

Josy Joseph in New Delhi | January 27, 2004 15:58 IST
Last Updated: January 27, 2004 17:50 IST

India and Pakistan will hold a fresh round of composite dialogue in Islamabad from February 16 to 18, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement in New Delhi.

The dialogue will begin at the level of joint secretaries, but on the last day the foreign secretaries of the two countries will join the talks.

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Though there was no other official word from the government, sources in the Ministry of External Affairs said the talks will be spread over all areas of mutual concern, including Kashmir. He said a team of officials from all concerned ministries will be in Islamabad from February 16 to 18.

India and Pakistan had a composite dialogue in 1998. However, the relations soured after the Kargil war of 1999.

The collapse of the Agra summit in 2001 didn't help the matters either and the attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001 brought the two countries close to a full-fledged armed conflict.

Since Vajpayee offered the handshake of friendship in Srinagar in April 2003, there has been tremendous improvement in relations.

During the composite dialogue the two sides are expected to explore the possibility of firming up the ongoing cease-fire along the Line of Control and Siachen.

Though the nitty-gritty of the bilateral disputes would be a key focus during the three-day talks, some new confidence building measures are also being planned.

Among the CBMs that are being planned is a proposal to thin down troops along the Line of Control.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf had on January 6 in Islamabad decided to resume talks for peaceful settlement of all outstanding bilateral issues, including Jammu and Kashmir.

Musharraf has since gone on record saying his government will not allow use of Pakistan's territory for planning or executing terrorist attacks.


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