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Pak wants SMK at Afghan meet

Posted by :) on January 19, 2010


SOURCE :Ashis Ray | TNN

Shah Mahmood Qureshi and S M Krishna
London: Pakistan wants a meeting between its foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi and the external affairs minister S M Krishna on the sidelines of the London-Afghanistan Conference on January 28 as a precursor to a resumption of the composite dialogue. Both ministers have been invited by the British government to attend the 63-nation meet.
A senior Pakistani diplomat in the British capital told TOI, “A dialogue is always desirable. We would like to set the ball rolling once again. He also confirmed that Qureshi will be taking part in the Afghanistan Conference.” An exchange at foreign-minister level has been abandoned since September 9 last, when the two ministers interacted in New York. Thereafter, India put its foot down in view of Pakistan’s apathy towards the 26/11 attack on Mumbai by Pakistani terrorists.
Asked for a reaction, the Indian high commissioner in the UK, Nalin Surie said: “No comments.” He was also non-committal on whether S M Krishna would participate in the Afghanistan Conference. Jaswant Singh, former external affairs minister, now on a trip to the UK, said talks were always desirable.
Pakistani authorities are past masters at pressurising the West. They have, in fact, been persistently asking London to lean on New Delhi to revive discussion on Kashmir as well as to mediate on this matter.
Pakistan raised the issue as recently as last week during British foreign minister David Miliband’s visit to Islamabad. In addition, the Pakistani government reportedly opposed inclusion of India in an Afghan Council, which could emerge out of the Afghanistan Conference.
Krishna avoided meeting Qureshi during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at Trinidad & Tobago in November. India has refused to restart the composite dialogue with Pakistan until and unless it takes steps to dismantle the anti-Indian terror network on its soil and meaningfully proceeds against the perpetrators of the 26/11 attack.
Recently, though, there are signs of a softening in India’s stand. Last Wednesday, Krishna phoned Qureshi. According to TV reports, they agreed to co-operate on humanitarian issues, with the former thanking his counterpart for the recent release of 100 Indian fishermen.
Reading between the lines, it would not be surprising if Indian and Pakistani ministers did indeed meet outside the orbit of the Afghanistan Conference. An informed source indicated that Krishna was planning a three-day visit to the UK, which may include attending a function at Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in central London on his death anniversary on January 30.

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