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Pakistan rejects accusations on 26/11

New Delhi, July 5 (IANS) Islamabad Thursday rejected any involvement of state agencies in the Mumbai terror attack and offered a joint probe as India and Pakistan decided to take their dialogue process forward despite their differences.

The foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan, Ranjan Mathai and Jalil Abbas Jilani, wrapped up two days of talks on peace and security, including confidence building measures (CBMs), Jammu and Kashmir as well as promotion of friendly exchanges.

The talks, which ended Thursday, "were held in a frank and constructive atmosphere", said a joint statement. Both sides reiterated their desire to pursue the dialogue process in "a purposeful and result-oriented manner".

India shared information on the disclosures made by 26/11 plotter Abu Jindal Hamza that it believes points to the involvement of Pakistani agencies, and pressed Islamabad to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 carnage to justice.

"Terrorism is the biggest threat to peace and stability in the region. Bringing those guilty of 26/11 terror will be the biggest confidence building measure," Mathai said at a joint press conference with Jilani.

"The arrest of Abu Jindal has added an urgency to the matter. We will continue to pursue the matter to its logical conclusion," said Mathai.

In response, Jilani said while terrorism was a common enemy of both India and Pakistan, "trading charges will not help".

Jilani refuted India’s accusation of the involvement of Pakistani state agencies in the Nov 26, 2008 killings in Mumbai that left 166 people dead, including many foreigners, and injured 238.

"I categorically reject any insinuation of involvement of any state agencies in an act of terror in India," Jilani replied when asked about Jindal’s disclosures.

He underlined that the two countries have to "move from an adversarial relationship to a positive narrative.

"I assured him (Mathai) that whatever evidence India has, the entire evidence should be shared. We have offered a joint investigation into the matter," said Jilani.

Despite the differences in perceptions on the issue of terrorism, both sides took a positive overview of the resumed dialogue process.

"We have positively assessed the dialogue process. We have made significant progress in all areas," said Jilani.

Mathai agreed: "We have made progress in people-to-people relations and trade. The two sides discussed the Jammu and Kashmir issue and agreed to find a peaceful solution by narrowing divergences and building convergences."

In this context, both sides discussed strengthening CBMs to step up trade and travel across the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Kashmir and decided to convene a meeting of the working group on cross-LoC CBMs July 19 in Islamabad.

The foreign secretaries also discussed the date for the visit of External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna to Islamabad.

The foreign secretaries will meet again in Islamabad on a date to be decided through diplomatic channels, to prepare for the meeting of foreign ministers in September.

The two countries also discussed revival of cricketing ties.

–Indo-Asian News Service