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India, Pakistan agree to carry forward dialogue process

Monday February 07, 2011 08:03:24 AM, IANS

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Thimphu: The foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan met Sunday in Bhutan's capital and affirmed the need to carry forward the dialogue process to resolve all ouststanding issues, an official said.

"The foreign secretaries had useful and frank discussions... they agreed on the need of contructive dialogue between India and Pakistan to resolve all all outstanding issues. They affirmed the need to carry forward the dialogue process," Indian external affairs ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said here after the meeting.

The meeting between Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir on the sidelines of a meeting of the eight-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), lasted around 90 minutes.

The foreign secretaries will now brief their governments on the talks.

The talks came even as both countries engaged in a spat over the 2007 Samjhauta Express train blast that killed many Pakistanis.

The Pakistan foreign office Saturday accused India of lacking "courage to unearth culpability of Hindu extremists and their links with some Indian Army personnel" in the train blast of 2007 in Panipat in Haryana.

The Samjhauta Express links India and Pakistan.

The spokesman expressed regret over the delay in the probe into the blast and said it was unfortunate that India was unable to complete its investigations despite the passage of four years.

Nearly 70 people, mostly Pakistanis, were killed in the horrific bomb attack on the train Feb 18, 2007. Indian investigators initially blamed Islamists for the attack.

Recent investigations have, however, revealed that rightwing Hindu activists could have carried out the train attack along with bombings in other places including Hyderabad, Malegaon and Ajmer.

Dismissing the statement, Rao said that India had never shied away from sharing evidence with Pakistan and it would do so at the appropriate time.

Indian officials also continued to press Islamabad to move against the Pakistani masterminds who ordered the devastating terror attack on Mumbai in November 2008.

The foreign secretaries' talks is expected to set the stage for a meeting of foreign ministers S.M. Krishna of India and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi in New Delhi this year.

Qureshi is not visiting Thimphu for the SAARC foreign ministers' meeting Feb 8. Krishna will represent India.

The meeting between the Indian and Pakistani foreign secretaries was the first official talks to revive the dialogue process since the meeting between Krishna and Qureshi broke down in Islamabad in July last year.

"We are going into this with an open mind and constructive attitude," Rao said earlier, adding it would be an "exploratory discussion".

Her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir said he also looked forward to the meeting. "My expectations are that we should be working towards continuous engagement."








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