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Indo-Pak dialogue to be reviewed; Saran to visit Islamabad
K J M Varma
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August 22, 2005 17:02 IST

Ahead of the possible meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] and President Pervez Musharraf [Images] in New York next month, the foreign secretaries of the two countries will meet in Islamabad [Images] next week to review the progress on the composite dialogue process.

The two leaders are expected to meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York next month.

Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran would undertake a 3-day visit to Islamabad, starting August 31 to hold talks with his Pakistani counterpart Riaz Muhammed Khan as well as Foreign Minister Khurshid M Kasuri, to review the second round of the composite dialogue process, expected to end this month with official level talks on terrorism and drug trafficking.

The two foreign secretaries had earlier planned to meet on the sidelines of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation standing committee meeting, scheduled to be held in Islamabad on August 17. It was, however, put off due to the assassination of Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar.

Consequently, Saran worked out a bilateral visit to Pakistan to review the dialogue process on Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek and 5 other issues.

Saran may also visit Karachi to see the renovation work of the Indian Consulate there, which is expected to be opened by December this year, officials said.

Indo-Pak CBM talks

Besides reviewing the talks on all the 8 subjects, the 2 foreign secretaries would deliberate on whether to take the dialogue process to the third round or shift all the issues to India-Pakistan Joint Commission, which both the countries planned to revive, officials in Islamabad said.

The Commission, which has different components for talks, would be headed by foreign ministers of both the countries.

Unlike the first round of talks, the two sides made considerable progress on different issues in the second round. The Srinagar-Muzafarabad bus service was launched, overcoming differences over passports and visas for its passengers, followed by visits to Pakistan by moderate Hurriyat faction leaders.

The two sides were currently holding negotiations on commencing truck services and increasing the frequency of the bus service from fortnightly to weekly between the two sides of Kashmir, officials said, adding that on the key issue of trade, there had been progress since Pakistan had opened up the Wagah border for various Indian goods, especially to bring down the prices in the domestic market.

The two sides are also poised to open the skies for private airlines and revise the shipping protocol to permit third country ships to make a transit halt in each other ports to deliver cargo instead of point to point transhipments, they said.

Besides, the two sides are expected to finalise the schedule for reopening of consulates in Karachi and Mumbai. Pakistan is believed to have paid the advance money for a plot it identified to construct its Consulate building in Mumbai without insisting on its earlier demand that India should hand over Jinnah house there.

'The US has not fully delivered'

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