India and Pakistan agree to broaden coordination


LAHORE: Pakistan and India have agreed in principle to broaden coordination with each other in order to resolve long standing disputes and to get the stalled peace talks back on track.

Meeting for the second time in four months in Islamabad, foreign secretaries Mrs Nirupama Rao and Mr Salman Bashir described their parleys as “cordial” and “constructive” during which they tried to “understand each other’s position” and concern. Addressing a joint news conference in Islamabad along with his Indian counterpart Nirupama Rao after winding up the secretary level talks, Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said the two sides reviewed comprehensively all the issues of concern and discussed the ways to continue Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs). He said both the nuclear armed South Asian neighbours have agreed to enlarge coordination with each other in order to resolve long disputed issues and to get peace negotiations back on track.

He said the two countries should work towards restoring confidence and building trust with a view to make it possible to have comprehensive, sustained and substantial dialogue. He said their meeting was marked with a great deal of cordiality, sincerity and earnestness and the dialogue was very constructive. “We have been able to review comprehensively the state of our bilateral relations. All issues of concern and interests were touched upon,” Salman Bashir said.

Speaking on the occasion, Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said that both the countries should emphasize upon reviving the disrupted composite dialogue process. “We discussed modalities for restoring of trust and agreed that dialogue process is the only way forward”, she added. She noted that Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani had assured his Indian counterpart Dr Manmohan Singh in Thimphu in April that Pakistan will not allow its soil to be used for terrorist activities against India. “We believe that it is an important commitment and what we also believe is that we should jointly work together towards our goal of resolution of outstanding issues,” she said.

Expressing optimism that the dialogue process will lead to peace, she said, “I am looking forward to a stronger and stable Pakistan”. To a question, Nirupama said that the talks were held in constructive and conducive environment where viewpoints of both parties were given weight. “Thought was given to restoring the trust between the two countries, so that path could be paved for the comprehensive dialogues”, she said. She added that she has taked to his Pakistani counterpart on restoration of bilateral ties and bridging the gap between the two countries. “The issue relating terrorism was of course one of the principal topic during the talks and both the countries will have to work in sync to eliminate the menace”, the Indian Foreign Secretary added.

After the Indian and Pakistani foreign secretaries’ meeting ended, Mrs Rao went to call on Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Shah Mahmood Qureshi are scheduled to meet in Islamabad July 15. The Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram will be travelling to Pakistan to take part in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) home ministers’ conference June 26. This was the first round of talks since the thaw initiated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani nearly two months ago, directing their foreign ministers and secretaries to meet and work out modalities of restoring trust between them.

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