Visiting Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri met Minister for External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee and reiterated that Indo-Pakistan relations were “very important” but observed that the two sides needed to “develop a level of trust.” Mukherjee announced that he will travel to Pakistan January 13 to invite President Pervez Musharraf to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in March at which time he will have “substantive talks” with Kasuri in Islamabad . Both leaders emphasized that this was “just an informal lunch” meeting as Kasuri was on a personal trip to attend a marriage.
Kasuri says the objective of the visit was to develop trust with Mukherjee as he had with the previous two Foreign Ministers. Acknowledging the “very heavy responsibility” of managing Indo-Pakistan relations, Kasuri says that he is happy to work with a “very senior leader” of the Congress Party as it give him “great hope” that “politicians who are strong” were required to manage tenuous bilateral relations.
While Kasuri was handing out platitudes to Mukherjee , Pakistan official spokesperson Tasnim Aslam told reporters that “proposals” on the Siachen issue “were forwarded during the recent foreign secretary-level meeting in New Delhi.” Reacting to Pakistan Foreign Secretary and Minister’s statements on Siachen, Defense Minister A.K. Antony had said that there was no change to India ’s stand on Siachen. Aslam said that the ball was in India’s court to consider the proposals and respond but refused to elaborate on the nature of these “proposals.” The Pakistan Army has already dismissed Indian claims over Siachen and refused to any validation process to maintain status quo of occupation arguing that the glacier is “part of Kashmir” and therefore is “disputed.”