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Next Round Of Indo-Pak Talks On Dec. 23-24 Email this page
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Islamabad, Nov. 30 (NNN) : The foreign secretaries of Pakistan and India will meet here on December 23-24 for the second round of talks under the ongoing composite dialogue process to discuss a wide range of issues , including Kashmir, peace and security and confidence-building measures.
At his weekly press briefing, Foreign Office spokesman Masood Khan said Pakistan had earlier proposed December 21-22 for the meeting. However, New Delhi suggested through diplomatic channels that the meeting should be held on December 23-24 which Islamabad accepted and conveyed its concurrence on Monday.

The spokesman said that in their two-day meeting, the foreign secretaries would discuss the overall progress in the first round of composite dialogue spread over about eight months and subjects such as peace and security, including CBMs and Jammu and Kashmir.

They would also work out a schedule of meetings on other six items - Siachen, Wullar Barrage, Sir Creek, terrorism, commercial and economic relations and promotion of friendly exchanges.

He said there was some confusion about the schedule of meeting announced on Oct 20 and added that the November 29-30 meeting between the authorities on narcotics control and finalization of a MoU was being rescheduled.

Similarly, the meeting of experts on trade-related issues was being rescheduled. However, the spokesman did not give new dates for the postponed meeting.

No change has been made in the schedule of meetings between railway authorities on the Khokhrapar rail link, officials of coast guards and maritime security agencies, talks on the Muzaffarabad-Srinagar bus service, nuclear and conventional CBMs joint survey of the boundary pillars on the horizontal segment of the Sir Creek area.

The spokesman expressed concern over the reported willingness of the United States to supply India highly sophisticated arms of different varieties and said that Pakistan would certainly raise this issue during President Pervez Musharraf's meeting with US President George Bush in Washington on Dec 4. India is reportedly seeking US-made anti-missile system based on the highly advanced technology.

In reply to a question, the spokesman said there should not be any link between the demand by India for the MFN status and the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline as the proposed pipeline would benefit Pakistan as well as India. Purely on cost benefit, India should cooperate with Pakistan but in any case Islamabad would go ahead with the plan, he added.

When asked to comment on a reported statement by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that he had no mandate to further divide India while trying to resolve the Kashmir dispute, the spokesman said Singh might not divide India but we had to evolve a settlement of the issue of Jammu and Kashmir acceptable to the people of Pakistan and India and Jammu and Kashmir.

Responding to another question, Khan said the concept of autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir had been advocated on numerous occasions by New Delhi from 1953 to 1990s but that had always been rejected by the people of Kashmir. The central moot point that posed the challenge was that the solution should be acceptable to the people of the disputed state.

When asked about a reported statement by Indian army chief Gen J.J. Singh on the Kashmir issue, the spokesman said he was not aware of what Gen Singh had in mind. But, he said, war was certainly not the answer to the problem of Kashmir for which peaceful negotiations were under way. What must be a priority for New Delhi was that it should show more respect for human rights in Kashmir.

He further said that at present Kashmir was on the front burner since it had engaged the attention of the peoples of India, Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir. The world community was also focused on the issue.

The spokesman denied reports that Pakistan had accepted the India-China model with regard to the Kashmir dispute. "There is no model, no pre-conceived notion," he added. He reiterated that there was no change in Pakistan's stated position on Kashmir and there was no question of freezing the issue (of Kashmir).

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