NEW DELHI, Dec 24 (IANS): Senior officials of India and Pakistan will hold two-day talks Monday on conventional and nuclear confidence-building measures in Islamabad, the first formal engagement since the leaders of the two countries met in the Maldives over two months ago.
Y.K. Sinha, joint secretary in charge of Pakistan desk in the external affairs ministry, will lead the Indian side at the talks on conventional CBMs, which will be held Monday. They will be followed by talks on nuclear CBMs Tuesday, with Venkatesh Verma, joint secretary in charge of disarmament in the external affairs ministry, leading the Indian delegation.
Munawar Saeed Bhatti, additional secretary in Pakistan's ministry of foreign affairs, would head the Pakistan delegation for both expert groups.
In the 5th round of expert-level discussions on conventional CBMs, officials of the two countries will focus on, among other things, implementing the cross-Kashmir trade and travel CBMs that were unveiled during the talks between foreign ministers in July. The two sides are also expected to discuss an agreement for removing weapons along the LoC and exchange notes on their war doctrines.
Issues relating to nuclear security, which have acquired an added edge following Japan's Fukushima radiation disaster in March, and missile tests will also be discussed Tuesday when the two sides hold the sixth round of expert-level discussions on nuclear CBMs.
The two sides are expected to explore the possibilities of expanding the scope of nuclear CBMs to include a pre-notification of cruise missile test launches. The Indian side may push again for a no-first-use commitment from Islamabad.
The expert-level meeting on nuclear and conventional CBMs is being held after a gap of four years.
India and Pakistan will exchange the lists of their nuclear installations and facilities Jan 1 under "Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack Against Nuclear Installations and Facilities". This accord was signed Dec 31, 1988, and both countries exchange the list every year on Jan 1.
India and Pakistan resumed, in February this year, their dialogue process that was stalled after the Nov 26, 2008, Mumbai terror attacks perpetrated by Pakistani terrorists.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani met in the Maldives in November and decided to give a push to trust-building measures to render an added momentum to the revived dialogue process.
Two days after the meeting on the CMBs, there will be Track-II diplomacy as the Pakistan India People's Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFD) will hold its seventh convention in Allahabad. The initiative has helped accelerate people-to-people contacts between the two countries.