Qureshi to contact Krishna to set dates for talks

Posted by on May 5th, 2010 and filed under Indo-Pak/Pakistan, International, Terrorism. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Islamabad, May 5 (IANS) Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Wednesday he would contact his Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna later this month to suggest two sets of dates for a meeting to work out modalities for resuming talks between the two countries.

‘My intention is to invite (Krishna) to Pakistan. We can sit together and take up things according to the responsibility entrusted to us by the two prime ministers and move forward,’ Online news agency quoted Qureshi as saying in an interview to a TV news channel.

If Krishna was unable to visit Pakistan for any reason, Qureshi said he would be willing to go to India in the ‘spirit of engagement and take things forward’.

During their meeting on the sidelines of the SAARC summit in Thimphu April 29, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani mandated their foreign ministers and foreign secretaries to work out the modalities of restoring trust, paving the way for substantive dialogue covering all issues between them.

At the same time, India had studiously avoided any mention of ‘composite dialogue’, saying both sides should move beyond nomenclature to introspect on the trust deficit in their relationship and chart the way forward.

Asked if he expected a breakthrough in the talks this year, Qureshi said: ‘It is a good start that the suspended dialogue has resumed and after (the Indian parliament’s) budget session ends, I will contact my counterpart and propose dates for our engagement’.

Qureshi, however, evaded a direct reply when asked if India and Pakistan had decided to give up the composite dialogue format for the resuming talks.

‘After we sit together, we can take things forward,’ he added.

The engagement with India will help Pakistan, whose focus is currently on the western border with Afghanistan, Qureshi pointed out.

A large number of Pakistani troops are deployed on the Afghan frontier and ‘we want success and progress,’ he said, adding that the resumption of talks with India would also improve Pakistan’s economy, and help the country in achieving stability and tackling an ongoing energy crisis.

Emphasising the ‘spirit’ of the parleys held on the sidelines of the SAARC summit, Qureshi said the two countries had decided ‘to discuss Kashmir, Sir Creek, Siachen (and) any issue of concern to Pakistan and India’.

He also denied any US pressure in the decision to resume talks.

‘Both India and Pakistan are sovereign countries that make their own decisions. Pakistan’s position was always very clear. It did not suspend the dialogue and it repeatedly said it would be better if the process is kept going.

‘If there is disengagement, your agenda will be handed over to the terrorists. They will think the process is so weak that one incident can scuttle it,’ Qureshi maintained.

The talks process between the two countries ‘should be taken forward so that it becomes irreversible and no act of terrorism can impede it,’ he added.

Asked about the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project, Qureshi said Pakistan has decided to go ahead with the venture on a bilateral basis with Iran because of its ‘immediate energy requirements’.

‘We told Iran that if India wants to join the project at a later stage, Pakistan would have no objections,’ he said.

Qureshi maintained that India would reconsider its stand on the IPI project at some stage and he foresaw India coming back to the venture sometime in the future.

On differences with India over the sharing of river waters, Qureshi said Pakistan had sent India a note verbale about taking the Kishanganga project to the International Court of Arbitration after the failure of efforts to settle the matter bilaterally.

Qureshi said he had raised the issue during his first meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and asked him ‘to flag it’.

At the same time, he admitted that of the 104 million acre feet of water that enters Pakistan, farmers got only 70 million acre feet.

‘Where is the remaining 34 million acre feet going? It is being wasted and we have to see how to tackle this through better water management and conservation,’ Qureshi contended.

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