07/31/2006, 00.00
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Waiting for the first meeting between Pakistan and India after the Mumbai massacre

The two countries' foreign secretaries are to meet in Dhaka to find ways to pursue their dialogue.

Dhaka (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Great expectations as India's and Pakistan's foreign secretaries meet informally today for the first time since the Mumbai railway bombings which threatened peace talks between the two rival powers.

Following the July 11 massacre that left 183 people dead, India had postponed talks scheduled for July 20-21 in New Delhi convinced that Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamist group protected by Islamabad, was responsible for the attacks. Both Pakistan and the group have denied any involvement in the incidents.

Indian Secretary Shyam Saran and his Pakistani counterpart, Riaz Mohammad Khan, are attending the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit taking place today and tomorrow in Dhaka, Bangladesh. They are expected to meet this evening but no official statement has been released to that effect.

However, Saran has let it be known that the two sides will discuss bilateral issues in light of the Mumbai attacks. "The message will be that Pakistan and India need to work together," he said, adding that New Delhi had no intention of pulling out of the talks or abandoning the peace process.

In a recent interview Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri said he hoped that Dhaka would not be a wasted chance.

India's State Minister for External Affairs Anand Sharma said New Delhi would restart peace talks only after Pakistan takes action against Islamic militants operating from its territory.

Analysts expect that like in previous occasions tensions between India and Pakistan will paralyse SAARC, an economic grouping that also includes Bangladesh Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and the Maldives.

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