India Pakistan – Foreign secretaries talks begin in Islamabad

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir and his Indian counterpart Nirupama Rao are meeting in Islamabad for peace talks on Thursday.

Earlier, Rao had said she was in Pakistan for talks with an “open and constructive” mind.

Following a hiatus of more than two years, the two countries announced talks would resume after a meeting between Salman Bashir and his Indian counterpart Rao in Bhutan in February.

The two civil servants, the highest-ranking career diplomats in their respective ministries, have come together for two days of discussions in Islamabad before Pakistan’s foreign minister is due to visit India next month.

“We expect that the talks will be positive and forward looking,” Pakistani foreign ministry spokeswoman Tehmina Janjua told AFP.

She said while discussions would focus on Jammu and Kashmir, peace and security and confidence building, the two sides can also raise any other issues since this round is taking place at foreign secretary level.

Concerns over terrorism are likely to dominate India’s agenda, just weeks after US troops killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on May 2.

No breakthroughs are expected, but the contacts are considered a key element of efforts to stabilise the region after US President Barack Obama announced the start of US troop withdrawals from Afghanistan.

The international community has been pushing the two sides to get back to the negotiating table to help ease tensions in an already volatile region.

“We have to be patient, realistic and positive,” Indian Foreign Minister SM Krishna said this week, calling for terrorism to be dealt with “firmly and transparently”.

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