India, Pak Special Representatives to conduct back-channel talks in Dubai today

Islamabad, Aug.29 : Former Pakistan foreign secretary Shahryar Khan and former Indian diplomat Satinder K. Lambah are reported to be meeting in Dubai today to ease tensions between the two countries and firm up a planned meeting between Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Manmohan Singh leaders in New York next month.

According to The Nation, the decision to initiate back-channel diplomacy was taken at the last meeting of Defence Committee of the Cabinet on August 24.

The two seasoned envoys and Special Representatives are expected to work out details of the proposed dialogue in New York away from the media's watchful eyes, it is learnt.

Ambassador Khan was asked to fly to Islamabad from London so that he could proceed for his Dubai meeting after being briefed by the government.

Prior to his departure for the talks, Khan had meetings with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his top foreign policy aides and the Foreign Office team.

Pakistan's High Commissioner to India Salman Bashir who was here recently also shared his assessment of the situation.

According to the mutually agreed schedule, the Nawaz-Manmohan meeting will take place on September 29 on the margins of UN General Assembly session.

However, the LoC flare-up had cast a shadow over the likelihood of the two prime ministers' getting together for breakfast as planned.

Sources privy to the latest developments told The Nation that it now appears the ruling Congress party in New Delhi has decided to go ahead with it and ignore frantic calls by hardliners in India, including the opposition BJP and hawks in Indian media to call off the New York meeting.

Back-channel diplomacy has support in Pakistan across all the security institutions and this will be the second Shahryar-Lambah meeting since the Nawaz Sharif government has come into power.

According to the paper, the Nawaz Sharif government has been keen from the outset to remain engaged with India and to move forward through constructive and result-oriented dialogue.

--ANI (Posted on 29-08-2013)

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