India-Pakistan water talks likely in March

As tension over ceasefire violations shows signs of dissipating, India has proposed that the next round of talks between water resources secretaries is held in March.
The government earlier wanted the talks to be held in end-January, but was forced to propose fresh dates because of the impending retirement of its water resources secretary D V Singh.Singh is retiring this month. Government sources scotched speculation that India had deferred the talks because of the recent strife over LoC or in response to Pakistan’s decision to call off a visit by its commerce minister, Makhdoom Amin Fahim. If Pakistan agrees to the dates likely to be proposed by India soon, this will be the first engagement between the two governments after the LoC killings that threatened to throw the dialogue process off track for a while.
Sources said it was Pakistan which had proposed in November that the water talks should be held in March, 2013. Pakistan had communicated March for water talks through a note verbale on November 7, 2012, said sources. Keen on expediting the dialogue process, India had responded by saying that the talks be held as early as the last week of January.
“It is only because of the impending retirement of the secretary of our water resources ministry that India is proposing dates in March which, in any case, was the original suggestion by Islamabad,” said a government source.

“The new water resources secretary would have taken charge by March and that would be the right time for the next round of talks,” added the source. Among other things, the water talks are important for addressing the issue of differences over the Tulbul navigation project in J&K.

This is the second time though that a high-level engagement between the two countries has been deferred in the past few days. Fahim recently called off a visit to India to attend a business meet in Agra later this month.

Source: South Asia Media Net

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