NEW DELHI: In their first formal bilateral meeting after Pathankot attack, Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan today held talks focusing on a range of sticky issues including probe into the strike and Kashmir, which Pakistani side asserted was the "core issue".
Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry, here to attend the Heart of Asia conference, met after which the Pakistani side said its Foreign Secretary "emphasised that Kashmir remains the core issue that requires a just solution in accordance with UNSC resolutions and wishes of Kashmiri people."
There was no immediate formal word from the Indian side on the meeting. Ahead of the meeting, the Indian officials had maintained that Pathankot attack and a possible visit by the NIA to Pakistan will be raised during the FS-level talks, which were deferred in January in the wake of the strike at the strategic air base at Pathankot.
"In line with our PM's vision of peaceful neighborhood, FS underscored Pakistan's commitment to have friendly relations with all its neighbors/India. All outstanding issues including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute were discussed," the Pakistan High Commission here said.
India has been pressing for action against terrorists responsible for the audacious attack on the IAF base, to take the talks forward. This is also the first time the two foreign secretaries are meeting after the announcement of Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue(CBD) by the Foreign Ministers in Islamabad last December. The two secretaries had a informal brief interaction during a SAARC meeting in Nepal in March this year.
The efforts to resume CBD at the Foreign Secretary-level hit a deadlock after the Pathankot attack that India said was carried out by militants from Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM)terror group. Jaishankar was scheduled to travel to Islamabad to hold talks with Chaudhary on January 15 but both the countries had announced deferment of the talks with "mutual consent" in the wake of the Pathankot attack.
Todays's meeting came in the backdrop of Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit's recent comments that the bilateral peace process was suspended, evoking a sharp reaction by Indian side. India has been maintaining that communication channels were on at various levels but also made it clear it wants to see action on terror and Pathankot first before the dialogue could be resumed.
Earlier, Jaishankar met Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai and discussed issues of mutual interests.
After the talks which lasted for nearly 90-minutes, the Pakistan High Commission said in a statement that Chaudhry also took up the matter of capture of RAW officer, Kulbushan Jadev and expressed serious concern over RAW's alleged involvement in subversive activities in Balochistan and Karachi.
"He said such acts undermine efforts to normalise relations between the two countries. He also conveyed concern over efforts by Indian authorities for the release of the prime suspects of the Samjhauta Express blasts," it added.
He expressed confidence that building on the goodwill generated by the recent high level contacts, the two countries should remain committed to a sustained, meaningful and comprehensive dialogue process.
In this spirit, the Foreign Secretary underscored the need for early commencement of comprehensive dialogue for which the Indian Foreign Secretary's visit to Pakistan is due.