India downplays outcome of talks

NEW DELHI: A day before the top diplomats from India and Pakistan are set to talk, the government has sought to downplay any

great expectations from the talks between their foreign secretaries, clearly indicated by the fact that no joint statement is being contemplated after Thursday’s talks.

“We are going into the talks with an open mind, but are fully conscious of the limitations imposed by the trust deficit post Mumbai,” Indian official sources said today, as Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir arrived in New Delhi.

“However, we are not prejudging the outcome,” the sources said, but “given the complexities involved, we will use this opportunity to clear the air as much as possible and seek to take a first step, even if small, towards opening the possibility for future dialogue.”

As India’s Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao prepared her brief for the talks with her

counterpart, it is clear India will focus on the issue of terrorism, particularly the kind directed against India from elements

in Pakistan, and seek details

on the progress of investigations of the Mumbai 26/11 blast perpetrators.

While sources said they were willing to listen to whatever the Pakistani five-member delegation had to say, the Indian focus will remain terrorism and security related issues.

India had suspended the bilateral peace-building composite dialogue immediately after the Mumbai attacks on November 26, 2008 saying terrorism and dialogue could not coexist.

Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna, speaking in Parliament, condemned the beheading of the Sikh youth in the tribal areas of Pakistan’s Northwest frontier, while mentioning that Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari had also condemned the incident and sought the swift release of a Hindu taken hostage by the Taliban. “This incident of kidnapping and killing of Sikhs in Pakistan is a matter of deep and serious concern to the Government,” Krishna told Parliament.