SRINAGAR: Besides the political rhetoric that gathered around the high-profile meeting between two leaders, one takeaway from the event was that the two countries will shortly resume talks at the level of foreign secretaries. After the widely watched 50-minute bilateral session with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, Pakistani Premier Mian Nawaz Sharif Tuesday termed the meeting ‘good, healthy and constructive’ . Although Modi raised the issues of terrorism and Mumbai terrorist attacks of 2008, the agreement to take the dialogue further is indicative of both leaders having walked past the thorny issues that would beget distrust. I had a very warm meeting with PM Narendra Modi, Sharif said while briefing media persons after meeting Modi in New Delhi. As a departing note, Sharif said, “I leave this historic city with a strong sense that the people of our two countries will work together for peace and cooperation. Two foreign secretaries will be meeting soon.” He further said: We seek to pick up threads from Lahore declaration from where we left in 1999. Legacy of mistrust and misgivings have to be left behind. India and Pakistan have a common agenda of peace and economic stability. We agreed to review and carry forward our bilateral agenda. The two sides also agreed to revive foreign secretary level talks in future. Modi held bilateral talks with Nawaz Sharif on his first day in office. India’s new PM Narendra Modi has urged his Pakistani counterpart to crack down on militants and speed up the trial of the suspects in 2008 Mumbai attacks. But the Pakistani leader said they should put the “legacy of mistrust” behind them and work for peace and stability. Sharif attended Modi’s swearing-in on Monday, amid hopes of a thaw in relations between the rivals who have fought three wars since independence. Modi also “underlined our concerns related to terrorism”, Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh said after the talks. “It was conveyed that Pakistan must abide by its commitment to prevent its territory and territory under its control from being used for terrorism against India.” The two sides discussed trade and the “PM said the two countries could immediately move towards normalising trade ties”, Ms Singh said, adding that the foreign secretaries would “meet soon” to carry forward the bilateral agenda. In a brief statement, Sharif described the talks as “good and constructive” and said they were held in “a cordial atmosphere”. “We agreed that our meeting in Delhi should be a historic opportunity for both our countries… This provides us the opportunity of meeting the hopes and aspirations of our peoples that we will succeed in turning a new page in our relations,” he said. Nawaz Sharif said India and Pakistan must “work together” Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan have a deep history of mistrust and the BJP advocates a tough stance on Pakistan. Modi reportedly stressed that Pakistan must abide by its commitment to control terrorism from its soil against India and also raised the slow pace of trial in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. The attack on the Indian consulate at Herat in Afghanistan on Friday was also discussed. Afghan president Hamid Karzai has blamed Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba for the assault linked by some to the Modi government’s takeover. “We want friendly relations with Pakistan. However, for such relations to proceed, terror and violence must end,” Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh told reporters, adding that India’s concerns over terror were “clearly articulated.” The two leaders met for 50 minutes at Delhi’s Hyderabad House, a day after Sharif attended Modi’s grand swearing-in ceremony along with other South Asian leaders. In the interaction widely seen as an “ice-breaker”, they decided that their foreign secretaries will be in touch and discuss a way forward on talks that have been suspended since January, 2013. “We 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,” Sharif said before leaving for Pakistan. Modi has also accepted Sharif’s invitation to Pakistan but “nothing is fixed,” said Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh. After his victory, Modi surprised many by inviting the Pakistan prime minister for his inauguration. Sharif accepted it apparently against the advice of hardliners in his country. In a tweet on today’s meeting, Sharif’s daughter disclosed , “Indian PM Modi refers to PM Sharif as ‘MAN OF PEACE’…. Hope negativity fails and peace wins .” The Pakistani leader also called on Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was prime minister when he last visited India in 1999. India and Pakistan have fought three wars since Independence in 1947. Hostilities escalated last year after the killing of Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops and a series of ceasefire violations at the border On the content of the talks, Sharif said, “Our common agenda is not possible without peace and security. Consequently, it is important for us to work together. Let us change confrontation into cooperation. My government stands ready and is in the spirit of cooperation.” The Pakistan PM said, “We owe our people to overcome a mistrust and enmity. PM Modi reciprocated my sentiments. He stated it was incumbent on both of us to work together for the common objective – peace and development. Let us carry forward our bilateral agenda.” Sharif said he had a warm and friendly exchange with President Pranab Mukherjee. Earlier, Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh told the media that Modi raised the issue of cross-border terrorism and sought a speedy trial in the 26/11 case with Sharif. She also said Modi had accepted the invitation of Sharif to visit Pakistan. “All SAARC leaders invited the PM to visit. He accepted. The dates have to be worked out,” she said, referring to Modi’s bilateral meetings. According to Pakistani newspaper Dawn, Nawaz told Modi that the meeting was an auspicious occurrence for both the countries and Pakistan and India both have many traditional and cultural similarities. He is also said to have stressed upon strengthening shared values and customs, saying that poverty and illiteracy should be eliminated from the region. Sharif also denounced arms race and regretted how the two countries wasted valuable time and resources in the past, said the report. Later, Sharif told a news channel he had an “excellent” meeting with Modi. “I had an excellent meeting. We are positive, look forward to a positive outcome.” “PM underlined our concerns relating to terrorism. PM underlined that Pakistan must abide by its commitment to prevent its territory from being used for terror. PM Modi conveyed to PM Nawaz Sharif that Pakistan must ensure speedy trial in 26/11 Mumbai attack case,” she said. On the Kashmir issue, she said it was decided that “foreign secretaries [of India and Pakistan] will be in touch to find the best way forward”. She refused to divulge more details, saying many issues were discussed in the meeting including people-to-people contact and border management. She also said Modi had accepted Sharif’s invitation to visit Pakistan. “All SAARC leaders invited the PM to visit. He accepted. The dates have to be worked out,” she said, referring to Modi’s bilateral meetings. According to Pakistani newspaper Dawn, Nawaz told Modi that the meeting was an auspicious occurrence for both the countries and Pakistan and India have many traditional and cultural similarities. He is also said to have stressed upon strengthening shared values and customs, saying that poverty and illiteracy should be eliminated from the region. Sharif also denounced the arms race and regretted how the two countries wasted valuable time and resources in the past, said the report. Later, Sharif told a news channel he had an “excellent” meeting with Modi. “We are positive, look forward to a positive outcome.”
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