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Jaishankar arrives in Pakistan for Foreign Secretary-level talks; Islamabad may offer CBMs

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Islamabad: India will on Tuesday resume Foreign Secretary-level talks with Pakistan, months after calling them off following a meet between the latter’s envoy to New Delhi and Kashmiri separatist leaders.
Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar will land in the Pakistani capital Islamabad today for a two-day visit as part of his ‘SAARC Yatra’.

During the visit, Jaishankar will hold talks on a range of issues with his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhary.

Jaishankar will also meet Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during his visit.

During the talks, Pakistan is expected to propose a series of new confidence-building measures, including the restoration of the 2003 ceasefire agreement to end hostilities along the International Border and Line of Control with India, according to reports in the Pakistani media.

“The proposal is part of CBMs Pakistan intends to put forward during the Foreign Secretary-level talks in Islamabad,” a senior official was quoted as saying by a Pakistani daily.

Other proposals include an understanding to avoid public statements against each other at the official level.

“It really vitiates atmosphere when strong statements are issued at the official level,” the official said.

An agreement on not issuing statements against each other would ensure diplomacy between the two countries was not conducted through the media, the official said.

Indian officials, however, are not much hopeful about the talks. They have stressed that Jaishankar’s visit is part of “SAARC yatra and not a Pak yatra”.

Their fears were not unfounded as a Pakistani Foreign Office spokesperson yesterday said talks with Kashmiri separatists would continue.

“The practice of Pakistani High Commissioner and Pakistani leadership meeting with Kashmiris has been going on for a long time now. We have been meeting Kashmiri leaders and will continue meeting them as and when we consider necessary,” Tasnim Aslam Khan was quoted as saying.

Also yesterday, ahead of the talks a Pakistani daily said in an editorial that the Indian military remains the principal threat to Pakistan’s security.

“The Pakistani security establishment is right to closely track Indian defence spending because India remains, in terms of its military capabilities, the principal threat to Pakistan’s security,” an editorial in Pakistani daily Dawn stated.

“Stability will only come from advancing dialogue with Pakistan,” said the editorial ahead of the Indian Foreign Secretary’s visit to Islamabad.

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