New Delhi - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Tuesday that top diplomats from Pakistan and India would meet soon to advance peace talks that have moved fitfully because of political tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals.
Sharif was in New Delhi for the inauguration of India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, with whom he also had a “warm and cordial” bilateral meeting on Tuesday.
“We agreed that the two foreign secretaries would be meeting soon to review and carry forward our bilateral agenda in the spirit of our meeting today,” PM Sharif said.
India said earlier that Modi had conveyed during the meeting his concerns about militants using Pakistani soil to carry out acts of terrorism in India. In his talk to reporters, PM Sharif said that he told PM Modi accusations and counter-accusations did not help matters. Sharif said Pakistan and India will have to end confrontation for improved ties. He described the meeting as “good and constructive”.
Before his departure for Pakistan, Sharif read out a statement to the press which said that his government stands ready to discuss all issues between the two countries, in the spirit of cooperation and sincerity.
During his 45-minute long meeting, Sharif said he also recalled his invitation to then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Lahore in February 1999 and that he “intended to pick up the threads of the Lahore Declaration, from where it had to be left off in October 1999”.
“I stressed to Prime Minister Modi that we have a common agenda of development and economic revival, which is not possible to achieve without peace and stability in the region. I urged that together, we should rid the region of instability and insecurity that has plagued us for decades.
“Consequently, it was important for us to work together for peace, progress and prosperity. Finally, I urged that we had to strive to change confrontation into cooperation. Engaging in accusations and counter-accusations would be counter-productive, I emphasised....After all, we owe it to our people to overcome the legacy of mistrust and misgivings,” the Pakistani prime minister said.
He said they agreed that this common objective could be facilitated by greater people-to-people exchanges, at all levels.
“Prime Minister Modi warmly reciprocated my sentiments and remarked that my visit to New Delhi was seen as a special gesture by the people of India. He stated that it was incumbent on both of us to work together, to achieve our common objectives for peace and development.
“I take leave of this historic city. I do so with a strong sense that the leadership and the people of our two countries share desire and mutual commitment to carry forward our relationship, for the larger good of our people,” Sharif added.
Newly-elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has underlined New Delhi’s concern related to terrorism during his meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, an Indian foreign ministry official said.
Sujatha Singh, Indian Foreign Secretary, told a media briefing that during his meeting with PM Sharif, the Indian prime minister urged Islamabad that it must abide by its commitment not to let its territory be used for attacks in India.
Modi also conveyed to PM Sharif that Pakistan must ensure speedy trial of those involved in Mumbai attacks, she said, adding both the prime ministers have agreed to continue talks at the level of the foreign secretaries.
She said that both the leaders also talked about enhancing bilateral trade ties between the two countries and agreed to move forward according to 2012 framework agreed by both nations. Modi has also accepted Sharif’s invitation to visit Pakistan, but no dates have been revealed.
Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh said, “The foreign secretaries will meet and then will see how best to take this forward.”
The discussions turned out to be more than an ice-breaker with Modi talking tough with Pakistan and raising cross-border terror and the slow pace of the 26/11 trial, even as both leaders took tentative steps forward.
“We want friendly relations with Pakistan. However, for such relations to proceed, terror and violence must end,” Ms Singh told reporters, talking about the Modi-Sharif meeting.
Modi on Tuesday shared some emotional moments of his conversation with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on popular micro-blogging website.
In a message on twitter, Modi said: Earlier in the evening in my conversation with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif he shared some very emotional things.
“This time when he was eating with his Mother he saw visuals on TV of my Mother offering me sweets.
“The visuals touched both Nawaz Sharif ji & his mother. He told me that after seeing the visuals his mother got very emotional.
Nawaz Sharif ji told me that he stays in Islamabad but goes to meet his mother once a week.”
In an unprecedented move, Modi invited Sharif and the other leaders to his inauguration, signalling his intention to be a strong regional leader after his right-wing party’s landslide general election victory.
“There was discussion on trade and we noted that we were fully ready to fully normalise trade and economic relations. Both prime ministers expressed their interest in having this done as early as possible,” the Indian foreign secretary said.
Trade between the two countries is presently around $2.5 billion, with Indian exports accounting for $1.75 billion.