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India's vibes on talks not encouraging: Pak to US

Last updated on: February 18, 2010 22:08 IST

Pakistan said it would approach the upcoming foreign secretary-level talks with India with an "open mind" in the interest of normalising bilateral relations though "the vibes emanating from the other side have not been encouraging".

During separate meetings with visiting US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said on Thursday that they were "making sincere efforts for the resumption of composite dialogue process" with India.

Gilani said Pakistan wants the resumption of the stalled composite dialogue but "regretted that the vibes emanating from the other side have not been encouraging".

The foreign secretary told the top US diplomat that Islamabad was committed to peace in the region and "looking forward to a meeting with his counterpart in New Delhi on February 25 with an open mind".

Pakistan wanted its relations with India to normalise, he said.

Accordingly, Pakistan would like its engagement with India to be irreversible and meaningful, leading to the resolution of all bilateral issues and disputes as provided for in the composite dialogue," Bashir was quoted as saying in an official statement.

The prime minister also underlined that terrorists were the "common enemy" of relations between the two neighbours "should not become hostage to the activities of terrorists".

Relations between India and Pakistan "should not become hostage to the activities of terrorists", who are the common enemy, Gilani was quoted as saying in a statement issued by his office.

Both countries "must address core issues, including Kashmir and water disputes," for lasting peace in the region, he said. Pakistan recently accepted India's offer for foreign secretary-level talks.

However, the two sides continue to have differences over the agenda for the upcoming parleys.

India has indicated that it wants to focus on terrorism, while Pakistan has been pushing for the resumption of the composite dialogue, stalled since the 2008 Mumbai attacks. India-Pakistan relations also figured in President Asif Ali Zardaris meeting with former US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Holbrookes parleys with former premier and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief Nawaz Sharif.

Zardari told Armitage that it is "imperative that Pakistan and India the two leading and important players of the region bridge the gap and return to the negotiating table for resolution of their mutual issues meaningfully".

Meanwhile, Sharif told Holbrooke that, as an advocate of cordial relations between Pakistan and India, he welcomed the upcoming foreign secretary-level talks.

However, the PML-N chief made it clear that instead of a one-off meeting, the two countries should resume the composite dialogue process, which is the "only formal, structured and mutually agreed upon format for peaceful negotiations between them". There could not be "genuine peace and stability in the region without a negotiated resolution of the issue of Kashmir in accordance with the aspirations of its people", Sharif added.

Sharif also brought up Pakistan's growing concerns about what he described as "India's efforts to divert and deny Pakistan its rightful share of waters from rivers allocated to her under the Indus Waters Treaty".

"We have enough problems between us and India should refrain from creating another crisis," Sharif told Holbrooke.
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