Modi, Sharif discuss terrorism; hope for new page in ties
India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised concerns on terrorism and need for action in 26/11 during his meeting with his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif Tuesday as the two sides stuck a note of optimism and hoped to start a new chapter in their strained bilateral ties.
The first meeting between Modi, who assumed charge earlier in the day Tuesday and Sharif was held at Hyderabad House here with the two sides agreeing that their foreign secretaries will be in touch to discuss the future roadmap for talks.
Modi clearly articulated India's concerns on terrorism at the meeting which was described as a "good, substantive and constructive" meeting by Indian officials.
Sharif, who interacted with media before going back to Islamabad, said he had "a very good meeting" with Modi and it was time to open "a new page" in bilateral relationship.
Modi "underlined his concerns on terrorism and expressed the hope that Pakistan will abide by its commitment to not allow its territory or territories controlled by it to be used for terrorist activities against India," Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh told media.
Modi also called for a speedy trial of Pakistanis accused of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai terror attack. The bilateral relationship between the two countries has been bedevilled by what India views as Pakistan's hesitation in taking action against the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.
Sharif had Monday joined leaders from SAARC countries at the swearing in of Modi as India's prime minister. He met Modi Tuesday for what was called a "courtesy meeting" by officials.
In a statement which he read out in his media interaction, Sharif said he had underlined that India and Pakistan needed peace to build their economies. Noting his 45-minute meeting with Modi was held in a warm and cordial atmosphere, he told Modi that he desired to take forward the peace process that he had initiated with then Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1999 until it was derailed by a military coup.
"I intend to pick up the threads of the Lahore peace declaration."
The Pakistani premier said his own election and Modi's electoral victory - both "with a clear mandate" - "should be a historic opportunity for both our countries" to meet hopes and aspirations of people on the two sides.
Sharif said he urged Modi "to strive to change confrontation to cooperation" and added his government was "ready to discuss all issues in a spirit of cooperation".
"After all we owe it to our people ... to rid the region of instability and insecurity that has plagued us for decades."Accusations and counter-accusations will be counter productive... We must end the legacy of mistrust. Modi warmly reciprocated my sentiments," he said.
Sujatha Singh termed the meeting between the two prime ministers as "very constructive".
"Both sides were trying to address each other's concerns," she said."We want peaceful relations with Pakistan. However, for such relations to proceed it is important that terror and violence is brought to an end."
The foreign secretary said that India's "concerns on terrorism were clearly articulated" but did not confirm or deny if Modi had raised with Sharif concerns about involvement of terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba in the attack on the Indian consulate in Herat in Afghanistan last week.
On Kashmir, she said that foreign secretaries of the two countries will meet and discuss the way forward.
She said Modi has been invited to Pakistan and he had accepted the invitation but no dates had been fixed yet. Asked about India getting NDMA (non-discriminatory market access) status from Pakistan, she said that there was also discussion on trade.
In Srinagar, moderate Hurriyat Conference said the meeting between the two prime ministers was a a good beginning for improving relations between the two countries.
"It is a matter of satisfaction that the dialogue has been formalised and that too on the occasion of swearing-in ceremony," said Hurriyat chairman Mirwiaz Umar Farooq.
(Posted on 27-05-2014)