New Delhi, Jan. 27: India and Pakistan today said they would resume talks next month but made sure their announcements did not give the impression that either side had compromised over the level at which the dialogue would commence.
Foreign ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said joint secretary-level talks on February 16 and 17 will be followed by a one-day meeting of foreign secretaries on February 18 to “commence the process of the composite dialogue”. In Islamabad, the venue of the talks, his Pakistani counterpart said foreign secretary-level talks will be preceded by the meeting of the directors-general (joint secretary level).
Despite the wording of the two announcements, the agreement over the level of talks reflects that both are determined to maintain the peace momentum.
Sources said India’s “preference” was that modalities should be worked out at the joint secretary-level while Pakistan felt the foreign secretaries should also meet or that it should be held only at that level. “So we agreed on having it at both levels.”
Joint secretary Arun Singh will lead the Indian delegation on February 16 and 17. Foreign secretary Shashank will have talks with his Pakistani counterpart Riaz Khokhar the next day.
The Islamabad meet might fix the dates for the revival of the composite dialogue in March. Sources said next month’s talks would help Delhi and Islamabad schedule and focus on the issues likely to be included in the eight agreed subjects of the composite dialogue.
While the foreign secretaries deal with Kashmir and matters related to security, the rest, which include issues like Sir Creek and Siachen, are dealt with by other officials.