India, Pakistan to talk Sir Creek next week


New Delhi : India and Pakistan are set for some serious diplomacy on resolving their dispute over the Sir Creek marshland and will also discuss other items in the composite dialogue like Tulbul navigation project, terrorism, economic cooperation and culture over the next few weeks.

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The two countries plan to wrap up the fourth round of their composite dialogue in August, which will be followed by a review at the level of foreign secretaries.

The talks on Sir Creek will be held in Islamabad May 17-18, the external affairs ministry said here Friday while announcing talks for other items in the fourth round of composite dialogue which was launched in March.

This will be followed by talks on Tulbul Navigation Project – Pakistan calls it the Wullar barrage project – at the level of water resources secretaries on June 26-27 here.

Talks on Sir Creek aimed at fixing maritime boundary between India and Pakistan could prove to be crucial as it will be the first meeting on the issue after the completion of a joint survey by the two sides of the creek in the Rann of Kutch.

Culture secretaries of the two countries will meet in Islamabad June 28-29 to discuss steps needed to promote friendly exchanges between the two countries like liberalisation of the visa regime and enhancement of the list of pilgrimage sites people can visit from both countries.

This will be followed by talks between home secretaries of the two countries on terrorism and drug trafficking July 3-4 in the Indian capital. Although the two sides have launched an institutional joint anti-terror mechanism to share information and step up cooperation in the crucial area of counter-terrorism, they have also decided to continue home secretary-level talks on terrorism in the framework of composite dialogue.

Amid signs of bilateral trade picking momentum, commerce secretaries of the two sides will discuss ways to intensify economic cooperation here July 31-August 1

The fourth round was launched by Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and his Pakistani counterpart Riaz Mohammad Khan in Islamabad in March with discussions on Kashmir and peace and security. Last month the defence secretaries of the two countries met to discuss the Siachen issue, but couldn't make much headway over demilitarising what is known as the world's highest battlefield.