Islamabad (AsiaNews) – After months of tensions following the Mumbai terror attack India and Pakistan are talking again. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari met on Monday in Yekaterinburg, Russia, for the 9th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). For most commentators the meeting was a first step in rebuilding the relationship between the two countries.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that he and his Indian counterpart, Shivshankar Menon, had agreed to meet “at mutually convenient dates” in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt. The focus of this meeting will be the fight against terrorism as a first step towards resuming broader bilateral relations.
In Islamabad Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said that during secretarial level talks the two countries would not tackle the issue of Transit Trade with Afghanistan (TTA), an agreement that exempts Afghanistan from paying custom duties to Pakistan.
The issue is important, and not only for India, because Pakistan has been accused of allowing the Taliban to use the TTA to raise funds and engage in racketeering. However, for Islamabad this issue is separate and will not be on the table during the first round of renewed talks with India.
Relations between the two South Asian nations have always been tense. In 2004 direct talks began anew, with ups and downs lasting till 2008 when terror attacks in Mumbai led the Indians to freeze them.