New Delhi, Jul 27: The minister-level talks between India and Pakistan were held here today against the backdrop of India being clearly unhappy with new Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar holding meeting with Kashmiri separatist leaders ahead of parleys with S M Krishna.
Khar within hours of her arrival met separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani and others in the Pakistan High Commission yesterday, an action which has been viewed as a “bad idea” by the Indian side which is expected to raise the issue during the talks.
Ahead of their discussions, both Krishna and Khar made positive statements maintaining that they were looking towards a cooperative relationship.
“I look forward to working closely with her, in forging a peaceful and cooperative relationship between India and Pakistan, which is in the interest of peace and development of both our countries, the region and beyond. We owe this to ourselves and to the generations to follow,” Krishna said.
Asserting that they have come with a “positive outlook”, Khar, the youngest and the first woman Foreign Minister of Pakistan, said, “We feel that the relationship between the two countries should not be held hostage by the past that the two countries have faced. We look forward to a genuine interaction with India in a setting which is respectful of reality of the two countries.
“As I have said, (there should be) peaceful co-existence recognising the realities that exist within the two countries,” Khar said while noting that burden of responsibility on the shoulders of India and Pakistan was not only to work for peace and prosperity for the people of two neighbours but also for peace and stability in the region.
“I visualise a resurgent South Asia, proudly marching forth on a path of development, in a terror free and harmonious atmosphere,” Krishna said. Emphasising that Pakistan was looking for a positive engagement with India, Khar said Pakistan seeks good, friendly and cooperative relationship with India as an important neighbour. “We also understand the responsibility that both the countries have on their shoulders as important players in the region,” she said.
Both leaders noted that the challenges and aspirations for the people of India and Pakistan and that of South Asia were similar.
The restricted talks lasted for over half-an-hour followed by delegation-level parleys.
Krishna was accompanied by Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, Foreign Secretary-designate Ranjan Mathai, Y K Sinha, joint secretary in-charge of Pakistan in MEA, Sharat Sabharwal, India's High Commissioner to Pakistan, and other senior officials.
Khar's delegation included Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, Zehra Akbari, Director General, South Asia, in Pakistan's Foreign Office and Pakistan's High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik.
Ahead of the Minister-level talks, Rao and Bashir had yesterday finalised a slew of CBMs designed to expand cross-LoC travel and trade in Jammu and Kashmir apart from holding discussions on terror including progress in Pakistan in the probe into 2008 Mumbai attack case and ISI's links with Kashmiri separatists. PTI