Talks with Pakistan will be restricted to core concerns over terrorism The Hindu : News / National : "Talks with Pakistan will be restricted to core concerns over terrorism" Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao on Monday made it clear that talks with Pakistan later this week would be restricted to India’s “core concerns” over cross-border terrorism. Asked whether India would be willing to discuss Kashmir if Pakistan brought up the issue, she evaded a direct reply saying: “We have to move slowly and deliberately on all issues.” Ms. Rao, who was speaking at the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), declined to answer specific questions about the talks except to say that it was a “sincere” attempt by New Delhi to initiate dialogue with Islamabad despite the fact that the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks had still not been punished and terrorist groups continued to use “safe havens” in Pakistan to target India. “We hope we can build, in a graduated manner, better communication and a serious and responsive dialogue to address issues of concern between our two countries,” she said. In the past, India’s efforts to normalise relations with Pakistan had been “undermined” by Islamabad’s failure to deal with Indian concerns on terrorism, she said, pointing out that calls for “jihad” against India by Pakistan-based militant groups continued to be made openly even as the two countries were preparing for talks. “We have repeatedly taken initiatives in the past to improve the relationship … We are now making another attempt of dialogue with Pakistan. However, calls of jihad, hostility and aggression continue to be made openly against India. This reflects the real and tangible difficulties that we face in dealing with Pakistan. If the process of normalisation that we desire with Pakistan, is to be sustained and taken forward, effective action against such groups by the Government of Pakistan is an absolute must,” she said. “Act decisively” It was “essential,” she said, that Pakistan cracked down on anti-India groups and got rid of terror infrastructure. “We have consistently maintained that Pakistan should bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice expeditiously and in a transparent manner. It should act decisively to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism on its territory,” she said. Ms. Rao acknowledged that in the face of threat to its own security from terrorists Pakistan had taken some steps but said these were “selective” measures and did not go far enough. “Terror groups implacably opposed to India continue to recruit, train and plot attacks from safe havens across our borders,” she said. She enumerated the steps India was taking to protect itself from cross-border terror but said terrorism could not be dealt with by national efforts alone. “Global efforts to tackle the problem also need to be intensified. Terrorism needs to be countered collectively and expeditiously,” she said and called for early adoption of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism tabled at the United Nations in 1996. “We must act jointly and with determination to meet the challenges posed by terrorism and to defend the values of pluralism, peaceful co-existence and the rule of law,” she added. In her speech, “Perspectives on Foreign Policy for a 21st Century India,” Ms. Rao described India as a “force of moderation” in the region.