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Foreign Secretary-level talks: ‘no convenient dates yet’

NAYANIMA BASU New Delhi | Updated on January 19, 2018

But there is ‘continuous dialogue’ on Pathankot, says External Affairs Ministry

The Centre on Thursday said no dates have yet been finalised on the impending Foreign Secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan, although both countries are in “continuous dialogue” over the Pathankot Air Force base terror attack case, which took place on January 2.

“We have not yet been able to finalise a mutually convenient date. Both countries are in continuous dialogue with each other,” Vikas Swarup, spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) told reporters here.

He also reiterated that when the talks happen Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar will be taking up the Pathankot attack case with his Pakistani counterpart, although, the main focus will be on discussing the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue, as decided during the visit of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during her visit there last month.

“It was agreed that while the two Foreign Secretaries will meet to discuss the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue, the terror track will be handled by the NSAs (National Security Advisors).

“However, as you know Pathankot has intervened, so the Foreign Secretary will certainly take up this issue,” he said.

Both Foreign Secretaries were slated to meet on January 15 and 16, which got postponed in the aftermath of the attacks.

On the issue of Pakistan sending a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to examine the Pathankot terrorist attack, Swarup said there had been no further development on the issue.

He also added that the Ministry of Defence has written to the MEA on the issue of a balloon being shot down by the Indian Air Force that came across the border. He said it will be taken up with Pakistan.

Sincerity test

In a parallel development, a Pakistan court is believed to have rejected their government’s petition seeking voice samples of 26/11 mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and six other terrorists involved in the carnage that took place in Mumbai in 2008.

Reacting to this, Swarup said the trial of the seven terrorists is a “test of Pakistan’s sincerity” in fighting terror directed against India.

“We have said before, we see the Mumbai terror attack trial in Islamabad as a test of Pakistan’s sincerity in combating terrorism directed against India. The planning, training and financing of Mumbai terrorist attacks was done in Pakistan, where 99 per cent of the evidence is,” he said.

He also said it is Pakistan’s “responsibility to unearth and present the requisite evidences in the ongoing trial so that the perpetrators are brought to justice.”

Published on January 28, 2016

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