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Krishna likely to meet Qureshi
New Delhi, Sept 17 (IANS):
Published on 18 Sep. 2010 1:12 AM IST
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Buoyed by positive signals, the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan are likely to meet for the first time since their failed July 15 talks in New York later this month.
External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna leaves for New York Saturday on a 10-day visit during which he will represent India at high-segment meetings of the 65th United Nations General Assembly and other associated events.
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, who is currently in Washington to firm up the agenda for US President Barack Obama’s maiden visit to India in November, will join Krishna in New York.
Although no bilateral meeting has been scheduled between Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi so far, there are strong possibilities of at least a “pull-aside meeting”, said well-placed sources.
The two ministers are likely to meet at the UN secretary general’s dinner and later at the SAARC foreign ministers meeting in New York, the sources added. Efforts are on to arrange a meaningful bilateral meeting, the sources added.
If they decide to hold a bilateral meeting, Rao will first meet her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir to prepare the ground for the first meeting between the two foreign ministers since the July 15 talks failed over clashing perceptions about the scope of talks and Pakistan’s insistence on a time-line for resolving complex issues like Kashmir.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is understood to be driving a fresh initiative to re-engage Pakistan after the July foreign minister-level talks ended in bitter acrimony.
In an interaction with senior journalists early this month, Manmohan Singh reiterated that there was no alternative but to engage Pakistan and added that India was expecting Qureshi to visit the country soon.
At an iftar he hosted at his residence, Manmohan Singh made it a point to spend some time talking to Pakistani High Commissioner Shahid Malik, kindling speculation about a fresh peace initiative between the two countries.
Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad Sharat Sabharwal recently met Pakistan’s foreign secretary and conveyed New Delhi’s intention to engage with Pakistan.
The devastating floods that ravaged Pakistan also had an unintended consequence as it loosened up rigidity on both sides with India first offering $5 million in aid and then hiking this amount to $25 million. After initial vacillation, Pakistan decided to accept the aid, albeit on the condition that it was routed through the UN.
The release of each other’s prisoners has shown that humanitarian measures could go some way in easing strained ties.
On the eve of the Eid, Krishna sent greetings to Qureshi and conveyed India’s appreciation on the release of 442 Indian fishermen lodged in various Pakistani jails. India reciprocated by releasing 31 Pakistani prisoners.

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