Washington: The US media saw Thursday’s secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan as a “first step” with broad agreement that even if there was no breakthrough as expected it was a significant diplomatic achievement.
“Few analysts had expected any breakthroughs from the meeting, which had been framed as a small step in restarting diplomacy between the two nuclear-armed neighbours,” said the New York Times in a story from New Delhi titled “In ‘First Step,’ India and Pakistan Resume Talks”.
India broke off the formal “composite dialogue” after the Mumbai attacks in November 2008,the influential US daily noted. “For months, India refused to resume dialogue on the grounds that Pakistan was not aggressively pursuing those responsible for the attacks and that it had done too little to confront domestic terrorist groups that focus on India.”
Like the Times, the Washington Post too said: “Few experts expected a breakthrough during Thursday’s meeting, which India’s home minister had termed “talks about talks.”
“But the session was seen as a first step, and expectations were so low that even the meeting itself was seen as progress,” it said noting the “first formal talks since the deadly siege of Mumbai in 2008″… “come at a pivotal moment in the troubled region.”
“India and Pakistan are struggling for influence in Afghanistan and, some experts say, jeopardiing regional security.” the Post said noting, “The Obama administration hopes that if tensions between the neighbouring countries decrease, Pakistan will focus more on eliminating the Taliban, Al Qaeda and other extremist groups based in its western border region.”
The Wall Street Journal said; “Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has staked his government’s standing on a bid for peace with Pakistan, but their first formal meeting in more than 14 months showed the two countries still don’t agree what is the most pressing issue to discuss.”
“Whether or not the talks eventually bear fruit, it was apparent on Thursday, after a meeting intended to set the agenda for more talks, the two sides differ on the focus of future dialogue,” it said.
The Los Angeles Times carried an Associated Press report saying, “Expectations were extremely low for Thursday’s talks, which were seen as little more than a symbolic first meeting and which India had billed as ‘talks about talks.”
Both sides indicated little of substance had been achieved, it said. “But just meeting after 15 months was a significant diplomatic achievement – even if it came in the wake of months of pressure from Washington.”