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Indo-Pak FS talks: Atmospherics and chemistry excellent, new ideas exchanged

June 24, 2011 - Islamabad

Following the conclusion of the two-day talks between the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan - Nirupama Rao and Salman Bashir - Indian Government sources said the atmospherics and chemistry between the two sides during the interaction were excellent, and added that both sides specifically discussed new ideas and ways to implement them.

Briefing media persons after the joint press conference, the sources said that among the new ideas discussed was to prevent a recurrence of a situation at sea, as was witnessed recently during the rescue operation of 22 sailors of different citizenry of the MV Suez, who had been released from the captivity of Somali pirates.

The sources said that among the proposals that would be considered by both sides was more interaction between think tanks and stronger coast guard coordination of maritime waters that separate both countries.

On the issue of nuclear and conventional confidence-building measures, the sources said it was decided to convene separate expert level meetings to discuss implementation and strengthening of existing arrangements and to consider additional measures, which are mutually acceptable, to build trust and confidence and promote peace and security.

They said that the dates for the expert level meetings would be determined through diplomatic channels.

On the issue of nuclear safety, the sources said that steps are being taken to introduce a Bill in Parliament that would include safety measures to counter a repeat of the Fukushima nuclear plant crisis in Japan.

They also said that any procedures would be focused on strengthening existing standards further through dialogue under the aegis of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

They also confirmed that a summit on nuclear CBMS would take place next month.

The issues of peace and security, including CBMs, they said, were discussed in a comprehensive manner. Both sides emphasized the importance of constructive dialogue to promote mutual understanding.

The talks were held in a frank and cordial atmosphere. Both sides reiterated their intention to carry forward the dialogue process in a constructive and purposeful manner.

On the issue of cross-Line of Control (LoC) confidence-building measures, the sources said that a Working Group would be meeting in July 2011 to consider and recommend measures for strengthening and streamlining the existing trade and travel arrangements, besides proposing modalities for introducing additional Cross-LoC CBMs.

Sources said that both sides agreed on the need for promoting friendly exchanges between the two countries. They noted with satisfaction the progress made towards finalization of the Visa Agreement which will help liberalize the visa regime and facilitate people-to-people, business-to-business and sport contacts.

They said measures for promoting cooperation in various fields including, facilitating visits to religious shrines, media and student exchanges, holding of sports tournaments were discussed during the two-day talks.

On the business front, the sources said that the possibility of trading in 21 commodities was discussed, but added that they were not actually Kashmiri products. The sources did not reveal what the products were.

They also revealed that the two sides agreed that military conflicts could not be resolved under the shadow of the gun.

On the issue of terrorism, they said that the foreign secretaries recognized that it poses a continuing threat to peace and security and reiterated the firm and undiluted commitment of the two countries to fight and eliminate this scourge in all its forms and manifestations. They agreed on the need to strengthen cooperation on counter-terrorism.

On the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, the sources said that the two sides agreed to continue discussions in a purposeful and forward looking manner with the view to finding a peaceful solution by narrowing divergences and building convergences. y Smita Prakash


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