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India to discuss terrorism with Pak over lunch

External Affairs Minister SM Krishna on Thursday said the main intention of his visit to Pakistan was to normalise the relations between the two Asian neighbours.

He added that India’s concerns on threats of terror emanating from Pakistan will top the agenda of talks as he heads to Islamabad today to meet his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar in yet another attempt at fence-mending between the two wary South Asian neighbours.


Firm grip on the topic: SM Krishna and Hina Rabbani Khar will co-chair the plenary of the India-Pakistan Joint Commission. File pic

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 will begin his three-day visit to Pakistan on Friday. While the foreign secretaries — India’s Ranjan Mathai and Pakistan’s Jalil Abbas Jilani — will meet today, the foreign ministers will hold talks tomorrow.

Krishna, who was last in Pakistan in July 2011, will spend some time in Lahore on 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 tomorrow.

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 Pakistan. 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, but 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. 

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