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India, Pakistan officials meet for better ties

Both sides agree to address all outstanding issues

Image Credit: AP
US Secretary of State John Kerry with Sartaj Aziz, adviser fornational security and foreign affairs.
Gulf News

Islamabad: After the newly-elected government took office in Islamabad last month, Pakistan and India had the first high-level bilateral contact on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Asean Regional Forum conference in Darussalam, Brunei.

The meeting between Pakistan’s Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Indian Minister for External Affairs Salman Khurshid was held in a “warm and cordial atmosphere,” Pakistani foreign ministry said.

The discussions focused on building better relations between the two countries, a ministry statement said.

The Indian external affairs minister conveyed greetings from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and expressed his government’s desire to engage with Pakistan on all issues for improving bilateral relations, it said.

Aziz informed the Indian minister that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was giving priority to improving relations with India by “picking up the threads from the Lahore process of 1999,” the statement said.

During that year the then Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had made a historic bus journey to the eastern Pakistani border city of Lahore and held talks with Nawaz Sharif, about nine months before his government was toppled in a military coup.

Aziz said during the meeting that in order to ensure lasting peace and security in the region it was necessary to discuss all outstanding issues and confidence building proposals.

Trade and economic cooperation between the two countries could act as a catalyst and raise the confidence level on both sides that would allow a sustained peace process, he emphasised.

Aziz appreciated the recent visit of an Indian energy mission to Pakistan in which trade in electricity and gas was discussed, as well as the meeting of Pakistan-India Joint Business Council meeting held in Islamabad last month.

Both Aziz and Khurshid expressed hope that bilateral dialogue process between Pakistan and India would be resumed within the next few months, the foreign ministry statement said.