Khokhar optimistic about India-Pakistan talks
* Says he will discuss eight topics with his Indian counterpart
* Kashmir part of ongoing dialogue
NEW DELHI: Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokhar on Friday said that he viewed his talks with Indian counterpart Shyam Saran to be held today (Saturday) as positive, on his arrival in the Indian capital, APP reported.
Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saren, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Aziz Ahmad Khan, Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Shiv Shankar Menon and other Pakistani and Indian officials received him at the airport.
Staff reports adds from Lahore: Earlier talking to journalists at the Lahore Airport, he said: “We will discuss progress in eight subjects and prepare the agenda for a meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries.” He said the eight subjects consisted of peace, security, Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, people-to-people contact, trade and the Wullar Barrage.
On Muslim Conference leader Sardar Qayyum’s statement that so far Kashmir had not been discussed in the ongoing dialogue, Mr Khokhar said he did discuss Kashmir when he visited New Delhi last time. “Kashmir was a subject for discussions at the previous round of talks between foreign ministers of the two countries. The Kashmir issue will be part of the agenda in our future talks,” he added.
On making the Line of Control (LoC) ‘a softer line,’ – allowing Kashmiris to cross back and forth more easily and reunite divided families, he said the issue had been raised by the Indian government and that the Government of Pakistan was examining the proposal. He said the matter would be discussed in the forthcoming talks.
On Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh’s comments about alleged infiltration from Pakistan, Mr Khokhar said: “Well, we have not made any harsh statements. We just reacted to some of the comments from the Indian leaders but will show our concern during the talks.” He said that one should be hopeful about the outcome of the talks.
Asked if the two countries were likely to sign an agreement on Siachen, he said it would be premature to comment at the moment. “I am not going to speculate on it,” he added.
On starting a bus service between Khokhrapar and Monabao and between Srinagar to Muzaffarabad, he said: “Our stance is very clear. First we have to sort out modalities,” he added.