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Pakistan, India agree to resume talks

28 May, 2014

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NEW DELHI: Pakistan and India agreed to restore peace talks and enhance trade contacts in an ice-breaking meeting between the prime ministers of the two countries on Tuesday.

India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif to crack down on militant groups while stressing his desire for closer economic ties, the Indian foreign ministry said.

Modi "underlined our concerns related to terrorism" to Nawaz Sharif during landmark talks in New Delhi on the first day of his term in office, said Indian foreign secretary Sujatha Singh.

"We want peaceful and friendly relations with Pakistan. However, for such relations to proceed it is important that terror and violence is brought to an end," Singh told reporters after the meeting. She added that Modi conveyed the message that Islamabad must "abide by its commitment to prevent its territory and territory it controls being used to stage terror attacks on India".

Modi also underlined his desire to improve commercial ties, Singh said. "There was discussion on trade and we noted that we were ready to fully normalise trade and economic relations. Both prime ministers expressed their interest in having this done as early as possible," Singh said.

Modi has also accepted Nawaz Sharif's invitation to visit Pakistan, but no dates have been revealed.Nawaz Sharif said he saw the talks as an "historic opportunity" to improve ties between the South Asian countries. "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," he told reporters after the meeting.But he said he also told Modi that engaging in "accusations and counter-accusations would be counter-productive."

The prime minister said he urged his Indian counterpart for working together to change confrontation into cooperation for the good of the people of the two countries. The prime minister said he had a good and constructive meeting with Narendra Modi. It was held in a warm and cordial atmosphere. He said they agreed that the New Delhi meeting should be a historic opportunity for both the countries.

Nawaz Sharif said he pointed out to his Indian counterpart that both of them were beginning their respective tenure with a clear mandate. "This provides us an opportunity of meeting hopes and aspirations of our people."

He hoped that the two leaders would succeed in turning a new page in bilateral relations so as to focus on wellbeing and welfare of the people.

The prime minister said he recalled to the Indian leader that he invited then Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee to Lahore in February 1999 and that he intended to pick up the threads from where it was left at that time.

He said he urged the Indian PM to work together to rid the region of instability and insecurity that has plagued the region for decades. "We should, therefore, work together for peace, progress and prosperity," he said, adding, "We owe it to our people to overcome the legacy of mistrust and misgivings."

Nawaz said during the meeting both the sides agreed that common objective can be facilitated by greater people to people exchanges at all levels.

He said Prime Minister Modi warmly reciprocated his sentiments and remarked that the visit of the Pakistan prime minister was seen as a special gesture by people of India.

Nawaz said he agreed with Modi that foreign secretaries of the two countries would be meeting soon to review and carry forward bilateral agenda in the spirit of New Delhi meeting of the prime ministers.

The prime minister said he also had warm and friendly exchanges during meeting with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi.

He said he was leaving New Delhi with a strong sense that the leadership and people of the two countries share desire and mutual commitment to carry forward the relationship for the larger good of people of the both countries.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met Indian President Pranab Mukherjee at Hyderabad House. Both the leaders exchanged warm and friendly views.

During the meeting, Nawaz Sharif said the leadership and the people of Pakistan and India share desire and mutual commitment to carry forward the relationship for the larger good of our people.

The prime minister also held a meeting with former Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and discussed bilateral relations with him.

Talking to Vajpayee, Nawaz Sharif said his government is reinitiating the dialogue process with India to improve its relations with its neighbours.

He said Pakistan has always stood for promoting peace, stability, progress in the region, therefore it intends to move forward the dialogue process with India with a view to resolve all outstanding issues and to live in peace and harmony with neighbours.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also paid a visit to historic Jamia Masjid of New Delhi.He was accompanied by Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit. The PM visited different parts of the mosque built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Imam of the mosque, Syed Ahmed Bukhari received the prime minister on his arrival at the mosque.

In his statement, Syed Ahmad Bukhari said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is desirous of settlement of Pak-India disputes peacefully. Syed Ahmed Bukhari said Nawaz has come to India with a positive thinking.The prime minister also visited Red Fort in Delhi and took round of different parts of the fort.

End.

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