Feb 24, 2009

India for ratification of Saarc convention

India will ask a Saarc ministers’ meeting in Colombo this week to expedite the ratification of a convention on terrorism that their leaders had passed but their parliaments had not yet endorsed, a local report said on Monday.
The report came as India's home minister P. Chidambaram reiterated New Delhi's desire to have friendly ties with Pakistan provided it did not remain a one-sided affair. ‘India was for friendly relations with Pakistan. However, these should not be one sided, but on mutual basis. Our neighbour should not let its soil used for attacks on India,’ he told reporters during a visit to Punjab where he unveiled a proposed memorial to South Asia's revolutionary icon Bhagat Singh.
There was some confusion whether Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee would attend Saarc ministerial conference in Colombo on February 27-28 which will deliberate on several crucial issues, including counter-terrorism, energy and economic cooperation.
Mr Mukherjee is believed to be required in parliament which is meeting for its last session before the next general elections.
The two-day ministerial conference will be preceded by talks between the Foreign Secretaries of the member states. Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon met Pakistan's High Commissioner Shahid Malik here on Monday to discuss the agenda at the Saarc meetings, where officials from both sides are expected to meet.
Meanwhile Mr Mukherjee said India would respond to any information sought by Pakistan in connection with probe into the Mumbai attacks but he underlined that the request should come through official channels only.
India would cooperate ‘as and when necessary with Pakistan, Mr Mukherjee said. He ruled out a joint investigation with Pakistan in the attacks.
‘Whatever information we get from Pakistan, we respond to it. But information must be made available through official channels and not through media,’ he told reporters here.
He said India is ready to cooperate with Pakistan and in this direction referred to the material provided to Islamabad about linkages between the Mumbai attacks and Pakistani groups.
After being provided the dossier of evidence on Mumbai attacks, Pakistan has sought more information and in this regard given a list of 30 questions.
India has said it was examining it and would provide whatever information is possible to share.

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