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Terrorism, trade, visas to top India-Pakistan talks

Terrorism, trade, visas to top India-Pakistan talks

New Delhi: India's concerns on threats of terror emanating from various quarters in Pakistan will top the agenda of talks as External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna heads for Islamabad Friday to meet his Pakistan counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar in yet another attempt at fence-mending between the two wary South Asian neighbours.

The Indian side has made it clear that terrorism, and particularly the Mumbai terror attack, would remain a "core issue" as both sides review the second round of the dialogue process, revived in February 2011 after a long hiatus following the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.

"All issues are going to be discussed. Terrorism is certainly a core concern to us. Mumbai (26/11 trial) is a core concern to us," well-placed sources said here.

They said that terrorism issues will not take a backseat despite the increase in trade activity between both countries in recent months.

Krishna begins his three-day visit to Pakistan Friday. While the foreign secretaries - India's Ranjan Mathai and Pakistan's Jalil Abbas Jilani - will meet Friday, the foreign ministers will hold talks Saturday.

Krishna, who was last in Pakistan in July 2011, spends some time in Lahore Sunday on the way back. He will meet with political, business and civil society leaders in Lahore in an opportunity to feel the pulse of Pakistani civil society.

Both ministers will also co-chair the plenary of the India-Pakistan Joint Commission Saturday.

It is not clear whether Krishna will carry any evidence to back the home ministry's contention that a spate of recent hate messages spread through social media networks emanated from Pakistani territory. The messages had triggered the exodus of people from the northeast from southern cities like Bangalore, Pune and Hyderabad.

The sources, however, did not clarify whether the much-awaited new visa agreement will be signed during this visit. However, India hopes it will be signed as early as possible.

The visa agreement was supposed to be signed during the home secretaries level talks held in May in Pakistan, but could not be done as Pakistan insisted that it should be done at the political level.

Other issues likely to figure in the talks are confidence building measures (CBMs), release of prisoners as well as trade and border issues.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who met Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on the sidelines of the NAM summit in Tehran last week, said the expeditious conclusion of the Mumbai terror attack trial will be a "major" confidence building measure in bilateral relations.


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