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Narendra Modi, Nawaz Sharif touch base, discuss terror and agree to stay in touch
In his first bilateral meeting with visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister Narendra Modi struck a pragmatic note, underlining India’s concerns on terrorism, and asked Islamabad to “abide by its commitments” to prevent its territory from being used for terrorist activities.
Modi also asked Sharif to take the “necessary steps” to expedite the 26/11 trial in Pakistan, and secure conviction of the accused.
Sharif, according to a statement issued after the meeting on Tuesday, said that the two countries must strive to change “confrontation into cooperation”. “Engaging in accusations and counter-accusations would be counter-productive, I emphasized,” the Pakistan PM said about the meeting.
Sharif recalled his invitation to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Lahore in February 1999, and told Modi that he intended to pick up the threads of the Lahore Declaration from where it had to be left in the October of that year.
“We also 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,” he said.
Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh, briefing reporters about the meeting, said the two sides had decided that the foreign secretaries would remain “in touch” on how to move forward.
The last foreign secretary-level talks on bilateral issues took place in Islamabad in September 2012. They have since met only on the sidelines of multilateral meetings, the last of which was in New York in September last year.
Singh, who was present at the talks, said the 45-minute meeting between Modi and Sharif — who spoke in a mix of Hindi and English — was “very constructive”, as both sides were trying to address each other’s concerns.
The meeting was also attended by External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Nripendra Mishra, High Commissioner to Islamabad TCA Raghavan and other senior officials.
From the Pakistani side, Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Choudhary and other senior officials were present.
While the Pakistani side appeared gung-ho and optimistic about the meeting, the Indian side was more realistic about its expectations, and cautious about the outcome.
For the new Indian government, Pakistan’s delivery on three issues — 26/11 trial, terror, and trade — would be the major markers for improvement in relations, sources continued…