Khurshid, Aziz discuss possible Manmohan-Nawaz meeting

Bishkek, Sep 13 (IANS) India and Pakistan Friday discussed the possibility of their prime ministers meeting in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session later this month.

India's External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid held informal talks with Sartaj Aziz, the Pakistani prime minister's adviser on foreign affairs and national security, on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting in this Kyrgyzstan capital.

Khurshid conveyed to Aziz that a possible meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in New York "will require a conducive atmosphere and delivery for it to materialize", said in a statement issued after the meeting.

"This is a position reiterated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh," he said.

Aziz said he had conveyed "our concern and disappointment that the momentum" created for talks had been "arrested by the unfortunate incident of Aug 6" - the killing of five Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops on the Line of Control in Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir.

Aziz said he had also emphasized that the peace talks "should not be held hostage to electoral politics or the process allowed to be derailed by a single incident".

He said that "Considering the likelihood of a meeting between the two Prime Ministers we agreed to use diplomatic channels to finalize the agenda for such a meeting keeping in view the progress made so far in various working groups and in back channel contacts," according to a statement from Islamabad. Aziz was replying to a TV reporter in Bishkek about his meeting with Khurshid.

On the firings by their troops on the Line of Control that divide the two sides of Kashmir, Khurshid said they had discussed "the imperative of maintaining ceasefire along the LoC (Line of Control) by making the existing mechanisms more effective".

Aziz told the TV reporter that both had agreed it was important to respect the 2003 ceasefire agreement and agreed that the existing mechanisms "shall be used more effectively".

"We have two mechanisms at present. The two Director General Military Operations talk regularly every Tuesday and we have a Joint Working Group on Cross LoC Confidence Building Measures at level of Joint Secretaries or D.G of Ministries of Foreign Affairs," said Aziz.

Khurshid also said that the ground realities in India-Pakistan bilateral relations came up for discussion.

"I discussed justice for (Nov 26,2008) Mumbai attack victims," the Indian foreign minister said.

He said Aziz told him that Pakistan has appointed a prosecutor in the case and a Pakistani judicial commission would visit India in connection with the case Sep 23.

"We welcomed that step," Khurshid said.

Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated following the Aug 6 killing of five Indian soldiers in Poonch. There have been a series of ceasefire violations on the LoC over which India has voiced its concerns.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party has been demanding that India call off talks with Pakistan following the killings.

Former Pakistan foreign secretary Shahryar Khan and ex-diplomat S.K.Lambah, the points men for Pakistan-India back-channel diplomacy, have met recently to ease tensions between the two sides.

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