This will be Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao’s last attempt to extract an outcome before she retires next month. – File Photo

NEW DELHI: Foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan will meet in Islamabad on June 23-24 to discuss a raft of security-related issues, including nuclear CBMs, terrorism and, not the least, the Kashmir dispute, according to a background briefing here on Sunday.

Neither side is expecting major results, particularly in view of disagreements on the core issue of Kashmir and terrorism, but sources in the Indian government see the meeting as part of a sustained dialogue process to narrow the trust deficit and build an understanding to resolve the issues of discord.

And yet there are any number of reasons to indicate possible progress in bilateral ties. For one, this will be Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao’s last attempt to extract an outcome before she retires next month. Also a foreign ministers’ meeting between the two sides scheduled next month would need something to munch on.Of course the traditional caution applies.

India wants the expectations from the talks to be “realistic”, given the history and complexity of the bilateral ties. “Dialogue is a process. We should not expect a decision. We should go step by step,” the sources said.

The recent incident between their warships seems to have blown over. India does not want to whip up frenzy over it. India insists that Mumbai 2008 is “not behind us”, while Pakistan feels that it is time the political resolution of the Kashmir issue came up for discussion.

“We will cover all issues of interest, especially that of terror,” the sources insisted, refuting Pakistani suggestions that the Mumbai attacks not be aired at the foreign secretary talks because it was discussed by the home secretaries.The talks between Ms Rao and Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir would touch on peace and security, confidence-building measures, Jammu and Kashmir and promotion of friendly exchanges and culture.

More important from the Indian foreign ministry’s point of view, they would review all secretary-level talks held since their first meeting in February.

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