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Natwar to review Indo-Pak dialogue process

By K J M Varma in Islamabad
September 19, 2005 20:00 IST
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External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh would review the progress made in the second round of the Composite Dialogue Process and attend the preliminary session of the Indo-Pak Joint Commission during his three-day visit to Pakistan, beginning October 3.

"We are combining Singh's visit to Islamabad for the review of the CD process with the preliminary session of the Joint Commission, dormant since 1989," Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Naeem Khan said, announcing Singh's visit to the country from October 3-5.

The Joint Commission, headed by the foreign ministers of the two countries, was established in 1983 and held its last session in 1989. It has, so far, held three sessions. The two sides decided to revive the Joint Commission during President Pervez Musharraf's visit to New Delhi this year.

Asked about the specific issues the Joint Commission would discuss, Khan told reporters here today that the two Ministers would focus their talks on how to avoid overlapping of issues between CD process and the Commission.

He said, initially, the Joint Commission had four sub-commissions dealing with a number of issues between the two countries, which were currently being discussed under the CD process, which completed two cycles and the third would begin from January next.

When the Foreign Ministers meet, they would have to decided how to reconstitute the Commission. "It is a preliminary meeting, in which discussions would revolve around how to revive it," he said.

Asked about the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Musharraf, Khan said "there is no reason to be pessimistic or dismissive about the outcome of the meeting. The fact that Dr Singh has agreed to visit Pakistan and the External Affairs Minister is visiting next month to hold talks suggests that the peace process is on track," he said, adding, "One should not expect quick results from the dialogue process."

He said the meeting between the two leaders was a 'very constructive engagement.' He added, "The two leaders expressed satisfaction on the outcome of the meeting. All aspects of bilateral relations including the core dispute of Kashmir was discussed in detail. The two leaders expressed their commitment to carry forward their peace process and not allow terrorism to disrupt the peace process."

It was clear from the joint statement issued after the meeting that both the leaders agreed to discuss the options for resolution of Jammu and Kashmir issue through a 'meaningful engagement', Khan said. adding "Please understand the complex issues involved in it. The meeting was productive".

On reports that Musharraf has invited Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed as well as politicians from the state like Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, Khan said, "These are at the level of media reports. If there is interest from their side we will consider it. As such, no decision has been taken on this".

Khan also said that Pakistan has proposed October 27 and 28 as dates to discuss the air services agreement in Islamabad. The two countries are considered opening new routes besides the present Lahore-New Delhi and Karachi-Mumbai. They are also considering permitting private airlines to operate.

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K J M Varma in Islamabad
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