Talks to resume after probe team’s visit to India: Aziz

Washington, March 2 (IANS) The India-Pakistan foreign secretary-level talks could be rescheduled soon after Islamabad’s probe team visits Pathankot town to investigate the January 2 airbase attack, Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz has said.

Aziz, who is on a visit here, said a Pakistani team will visit India “in the next few days” to investigate the terror attack at Pathankot airbase that left seven security personnel dead.

All six terrorists, suspected to be from Pakistan, were also killed in the attack which derailed the India-Pakistan “Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue” that started following Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart Nawaz Sharif’s meeting in Paris.

After a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday, Aziz on Tuesday said it was unfortunate that the Pathankot attack disrupted the resumption of secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan.

Since the attack, Pakistan had taken a number of “important steps” to facilitate resumption of the talks, Dawn online quoted Aziz as saying.

“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called Narendra Modi immediately after the attack and assured him of Pakistan’s support in the investigation. The two national security advisers are maintaining frequent contacts,” he said.

“A case has been registered and the special investigation team (SIT) is likely to visit India in the next few days. We, therefore, hope that the foreign secretary-level talks will be scheduled very soon,” Aziz said during the US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue he co-chaired with Kerry.

Aziz said the government’s decision to reach out to India after the Pathankot attack was an important part of a strategy to improve ties with all neighbouring countries.

“We believe that the resolution of all outstanding issues — including the Kashmir dispute — is possible through resumption of full-scale and uninterrupted dialogue with India,” said the adviser.

He added that Pakistan also had “proposed a mechanism to address our respective concerns on terrorism”.

Soon after the Pathankot attack, Pakistan set up a six-member probe team to follow up on the leads India had provided.

On Saturday, a court in Punjab province of Pakistan granted remand of six suspects, arrested for their alleged involvement in the attack, in police custody for further investigation.

Aziz said the Indian participation in the Heart of Asia Conference in Islamabad last December and the announcement to start the “Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue” were positive developments that augured well for peace and stability in South Asia.

“Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Islamabad was welcomed by most in Pakistan. Here, I would like to express our gratitude to you and President Barack Obama for your consistent support to the revival of Pakistan-India dialogue,” Aziz said in his remarks.

He said the Pakistani government was committed to acting against all terrorist groups without any distinction.

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