Home Minister Rajnath Singh in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.

MEA says the meeting is to discuss regional cooperation within SAARC.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is expected to hold bilateral talks with his Pakistani counterpart, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, during his visit to Islamabad next week, a top Home Ministry official has confirmed.

Though Ministry of External Affairs has denied the possibility, officials said the agenda points for the meeting were being finalised and are likely to include talks on Kashmir unrest, arrest of Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists and the pending visit of the NIA team to Pakistan.

Talks on regional security

The planned visit by Mr. Singh has drawn attention as it comes within days of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj blaming Pakistan for “exporting dangerous terrorists”.

However the MEA said the meeting was meant for regional security and therefore was distinct from bilateral issues between two sides.

“These meetings as you know discuss regional cooperation on a number of security-related matters and take stock of regional security mechanisms. Our participation is in the context of our ‘neighbourhood first’ policy and our commitment to regional cooperation within the SAARC framework. I would once again emphasise that he is going for a multilateral event,” said MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup, emphasising that the visit is part of India’s focus on revitalising SAARC.

Check infiltration: India

In another development, India asked Pakistan to step up vigil and effectively check cross-border infiltration to prevent terrorist activities and clamp down on drugs smuggling during talks between the Border Security Force (BSF) and Pakistan Rangers which ended in Lahore on Thursday.

The BSF, in a statement, said talks ended on an “optimistic note” with both sides agreeing to undertaking constant endeavours to maintain peaceful and tranquil frontiers as the two border guarding forces agreed that there has been a greater adherence to ceasefire along the International Border, since September last year.

BSF Director-General K K Sharma and Pak Rangers (Punjab) DG Maj Gen Umar Farooq Burki, signed a joint record of discussions at the end of the four-day meeting at the headquarters of the Rangers in Lahore in Pakistan.

“The meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere and with a spirit of cooperation. It was agreed that since the last such meeting in Delhi in September 2015, there has been a greater adherence to ceasefire along the International Border.

Cross border vigil

“DG, BSF stressed the importance of vigilance against cross border infiltration to prevent terrorist activities and check smuggling in narcotics. Both sides discussed ways to strengthen measures to coordinate border patrolling on their respective sides of the border and address each other’s concerns in a time bound manner,” it said.

The Indian side is also understood to have raised issues related to cross-border smuggling of arms and ammunition along with narcotics consignments, detection of illegal tunnels running across the IB and the growth of ‘Sarkanda’ (elephant grass) and its weeding off along these areas.

The two forces had also decided that their officials, right up to the level of Directors General, will exchange mobile numbers, email ids and fax numbers for swift communication to resolve disputes on the International Border running through Jammu Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat.

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