Ministry team reaches New Delhi; talks today


LAHORE/ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani urge his Indian counterpart Dr Manmohan Singh to hold a “meaningful and result-oriented” dialogue on Kashmir and other bilateral disputes during his upcoming visit to India to watch the Cricket World Cup semi-final on March 30, said a Pakistani official, as a three-member delegation of the Interior Ministry led by Interior Secretary Qamar Zaman Chaudhry left for New Delhi from the Wahga Border on Sunday.
The delegation was received at the border by Indian authorities. The first session of talks between the Pakistani officials and their Indian counterparts will begin on Monday and the last session will be held on Tuesday. “We are going to New Delhi … to talk to our Indian counterparts on a host of issues, including the Mumbai attacks and Samjhota Express case,” Chaudhry told reporters before crossing the border.
He said other issues on the table would be prisoners’ exchange, drug-trafficking, smuggling and police matters regarding the issuance of visas to residents of both countries. An official, who wished to remain unnamed, said Gilani would travel to India with an open mind to discuss all issues facing the two nations. The official said Pakistan’s message to India during the PM’s visit would be to hold a “meaningful and result-oriented” dialogue for the settlement of Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek and other disputes that had soured relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours for decades.
The Indian PM had sent and invitation on Friday to Pakistan’s president and PM to come to Mohali to watch the semi-final on March 30. Diplomatic circles here see Singh’s invitation as a bid to improve the environment for talks between the two nations on the Kashmir issue and other bilateral disputes.
No breakthroughs are expected in the Pakistani premier’s visit but such high-level trips could go a long way towards creating a favourable environment for the dialogue process. The invitation and its acceptance comes as the two countries’ interior and home secretaries are about to hold talks on counter-terrorism in Delhi on March 28 and 29.
Online news agency quoted PM House sources as saying that Gilani had taken the military’s leadership into confidence about the agenda of talks with his Indian counterpart. The PM would also contact political leaders to take them into confidence about his visit to India on Monday and Tuesday before his departure, the sources added.
The sources said further that the prime minister also consulted his close aides and ministers and the Foreign Ministry would brief him before his departure for India.
Inputs added from Online news service