ISLAMABAD, June 24 (IANS): A day after New Delhi voiced its concern over cross-border terror, India and Pakistan Friday discussed Jammu and Kashmir, an issue Islamabad stressed was a "core" whose resolution was necessary for the normalisation of bilateral ties.
On the second day of their talks, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao discussed with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir various issues related to Jammu and Kashmir and focused on ways to further ease trade and travel across the Line of Control.
The Kashmir related confidence-building measures (CBMs) could include the launch of the Kargil-Skardu train link, increasing the frequency of cross-Kashmir bus link between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, and an increase in the number of trading days across the LoC.
Ahead of the talks, Pakistan tried to up the ante Thursday by pitching the Kashmir issue to the forefront.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, who is widely expected to be the country's next foreign minister, underlined that Kashmir remained a core concern. "If Kashmir is not core concern, then what is core concern?" she said, adding that the two sides can meet if both agree that terrorism and Jammu and Kashmir are the core concerns.
"Terrorism is not only the core concern for India and Pakistan, rather for Afghanistan and entire region," she said. "We are willing to address our core concerns and the concerns of others," she added.
Hoping for a "forward movement", Khar exhorted both countries to move beyond status quo and "resolve long-standing issues".
On Wednesday, Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had said that that the future of Pakistan was closely linked with the resolution of the Kashmir dispute.
With Pakistan trying to make the Kashmir issue the centrepiece of the revived talks, the leader of India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) L.K. Advani Thursday threatened to launch an unprecedented mass demonstration if the government compromised on Kashmir.
The two-day talks between the foreign secretaries have been divided into three sessions. On Thursday, the two diplomats discussed issues relating to peace and security; and conventional and nuclear CBMs.
On Friday, Rao and Bashir held talks on Jammu and Kashmir. The third and final session, which will be held later in the day, will dwell on the promotion of friendly exchanges between people of the two countries.
On Thursday, Rao voiced India's concerns over the slow pace of 26/11 trial and demanded that Pakistan act urgently against the anti-India terror outfits which continue to operate from its soil.
Saying she had come for talks with "an open and constructive mind", Rao had aired apprehensions about the involvement of a section of Pakistani spy agency ISI in the Mumbai terror plot as revealed by Pakistani-American Lashkar-e-Taiba operative David Coleman Headley.