India, Pakistan to review dialogue Wednesday

India, Pakistan to review dialogue Wednesday

New Delhi, Nov 24 (IANS) Days after Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari surprised many by his advocacy of no first use of nuclear weapons, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi comes here Wednesday on a four-day visit that seeks to invigorate the peace process between the two countries. This is Qureshi’s second visit to India since he became foreign minister of Pakistan and the first by him since Zardari became president nearly three months ago.

The trip is a continuation of Qureshi’s last visit here June 27 which was cut short due to a tragedy in his family.

Qureshi will hold talks with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday on a wide range of bilateral and regional issues, including the acceleration of economic ties, counter-terrorism and the Kashmir issue.

The two ministers will also review the progress in the fifth round of composite dialogue that was launched in the shadow of the bombings outside the Indian mission in Kabul July 7 that put the peace process under strain.

India has blamed Pakistan’s ISI for the Kabul bombings – a charge denied by Islamabad. The two sides discussed this issue in their anti-terror mechanism last month.

Taking a humanitarian view of the release of prisoners and inadvertent border crossers will also figure prominently in the discussions.

India will also take up with the Pakistani side increased infiltration and sporadic violations of the ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) that the two sides agreed to on Nov 25, 2003.

The talks between the two ministers will be preceded by a meeting between senior officials of the home ministries of the two countries in Islamabad to discuss cooperation in countering terrorism and drug-trafficking.

Zardari set a positive tone for talks when he announced Saturday that he was in favour of no first use of nuclear weapons against India and supported a nuclear-free zone in South Asia.

In his televised address from Islamabad to a conclave in New Delhi, Zardari spoke about the need for India and Pakistan to accelerate trade and supported visa-free travel between the two countries.

Qureshi will go with Mukherjee to Chandigarh Thursday to jointly participate in a seminar on “Cooperative Development, Peace and Security in South Asia”. The trip to Chandigarh is aimed at strengthening the ties between the “two Punjabs” on either side of the border.

He will also visit Jaipur and Ajmer, a town in Rajasthan that is home to the holy shrine of one of the most revered Sufi saints, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti.


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