India, Pak to talk on Sir Creek, counter-terrorism

Islamabad: Top officials of India and Pakistan will hold talks this month on key issues like the Sir Creek maritime boundary and counter-terrorism. As part of the resumed dialogue process between the two countries, representatives from both countries will meet in New Delhi during May 14-16 to discuss the Sir Creek issue, Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Khan told a weekly news briefing.

The Interior and Home Secretaries of the two sides will meet here during May 24-25 to discuss issues like counter- terrorism and measures to tackle drug trafficking, he said. India and Pakistan revived their peace process last year after a gap of over two years in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which were carried out by the Pakistan-based LeT. The two sides have taken several steps to normalise bilateral relations, especially on the trade front.

Khan said President Asif Ali Zardari had a "constructive meeting" with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi last month, during which they discussed all issues. Both leaders had underlined the importance of finding "pragmatic and practical" solutions to all issues, including Sir Creek, Siachen and the Kashmir, he said. Zardari had met Singh when he made a private visit to India on April 8 to offer prayers at a Sufi shrine in Ajmer.

In response to a question, Khan said the military standoff on the Siachen glacier is part of the dialogue process and both the countries have been discussing the issue. He said there has been progress in Pakistan-India relations in the past year and the current round of talks will be completed by the end of this year. Asked about the removal of "non-tariff barriers" affecting trade with India, Khan said such a move will improve bilateral trade and benefit Pakistan.