NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan are set to unveil specific cross-Kashmir and nuclear confidence-building measures (CBMs) when their foreign ministers meet in New Delhi on July 26-27 amid an improved atmosphere to continue the resumed peace process, Economic Times newspaper reported on Friday.
The talks between the foreign ministers will be preceded by a meeting of foreign secretaries and separate meetings of working groups on cross-border and nuclear CBMs, and tackling terror agreed during the talks in Islamabad last month.
Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir is expected to come to New Delhi on July 25 to meet his counterpart Nirupama Rao, setting the agenda for the talks between the foreign ministers. Minister of State for External Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, is expected to come to New Delhi for talks with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna.
All issues will be on the table, including terrorism and Kashmir, Indian government sources told Economic Times. Unlike the foreign minister-level talks that broke down last year and degenerated into mutual recrimination, talks are being held this time round amid growing realization that both countries must keep dialogue process going. The process was resumed in February after more than two years of freeze following 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.
Before foreign ministers ministers, India and Pakistan will have a meeting of their working group on new CBMs for expanding trade and travel across Line of Control (LoC in disputed Kashmir). Pakistan delegation on cross-border CBMs will be led by Zehra H. Akbari, Director General South Asia Division. Y.K. Sinha, joint secretary in charge of Pakistan, Afghanistan & Iran, is expected to lead Indian team.
CBMs being discussed between two sides include launch of Kargil-Skardu bus link, increasing frequency of cross-LoC bus link between Srinagar & Muzaffarabad and increase in number of trading days across the LoC. Cross-Kashmir CBMs are likely to be announced by the foreign ministers July 27.
There will also be separate meeting of working group on nuclear CBMs, to be led by India’s Venkatesh Verma, joint secretary in charge of disarmament & Pakistan’s Irfan Yusuf Shami, Director General Disarmament Division in foreign office. Besides CBMS, two sides are engaged in intense negotiations for agreement on liberalizing visa regime. This could be sealed during foreign ministers meeting.
Clinton to visit India in July for strategic talks
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is to visit India next month for strategic talks with Indian leaders, a spokesman for the Indian foreign ministry said on Friday.
The US secretary of state will be travelling to New Delhi to attend the second India-US Strategic Dialogue on July 19 after she presided over the first such meeting between the world’s two largest democracies last year.
“We are working on a programme” for Clinton’s visit, foreign ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash told AFP.
Prakash did not elaborate on the subjects to be addressed during Clinton’s visit but regional security was expected to be high on the agenda.
India has long accused neighbouring Pakistan of harbouring militant groups and analysts say it is becoming increasingly concerned that growing unrest in Pakistan could compromise the safety of the country’s nuclear arsenal.