India, Pakistan foreign secretaries to hold talks Tuesday


New Delhi : The foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan will meet here Tuesday to firm up details of confidence building measures (CBMs) and other initiatives that will be announced by their foreign ministers the following day.

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Accompanied by senior officials, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, who arrives here Monday evening, will hold talks with his counterpart Nirupama Rao Tuesday.

The two diplomats will firm up the agenda for talks between External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar Wednesday.

Khar, Pakistan’s first woman foreign minister and the youngest to occupy the post, arrives here Tuesday for talks.

Rao and Bashir are expected to review an entire gamut of bilateral issues and firm up deliverables that will be unveiled by the foreign ministers Wednesday.

India is ready to discuss “all issues with an open mind”, and will push for speedy justice for victims of the 26/11 Mumbai carnage, a government source said.

Pakistan is expected to raise the Kashmir issue.

A top government source said the two sides Wednesday will announce a slew of CBMs aimed at lowering barriers to expanded trade and travel across the two divided halves of Kashmir.

An increase in the frequency of cross-Kashmir bus links between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad and Poonch and Rawalakot, an increase in the number of trading days across the Line of Control (LoC), and opening of more trading points are expected to be the tangible outcomes of talks.

“We are discussing increasing the frequency of the trading days, improving the bus communication, resolving issues relating to entry permits used by traders. The idea is to make LoC trade easier,” the source said.

The meeting between the foreign ministers marks the high point of the peace process India resumed with Pakistan after an over two-year hiatus following the Nov 26-28, 2008 Mumbai terror spree that was perpetrated and masterminded by Pakistani terrorists and elements from across the border.