Resuming talks after a hiatus of seven months, India and Pakistan on Tuesday discussed each other’s “concerns and interests” with Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar raising the issue of terror, including the Mumbai attack case, during the meeting with his Pakistani counterpart.
Jaishankar, who arrived in Islamabad as part of his “SAARC yatra”, held talks with his counterpart Aizaz Chaudhary during which he conveyed the expectations of the Indian leadership on SAARC and the determination to forge a cooperative relationship with all the neighbours.
“My visit provided an opportunity to discuss our bilateral relations. We engaged on each other’s concerns and interests in an open manner. We agreed to work together to find common ground and narrow differences”.
“I reiterated our known concerns on cross-border terrorism, including on the Mumbai case,” said Jaishankar after his talks with Chaudhary.
India has consistently conveyed its concerns over the delay in the trial of the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack which claimed 166 lives.
The two Foreign Secretaries held an hour-long discussion before they broke-off for call-ons by Jaishankar on Pakistan Prime Minister’s advisor on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz and PM’s Special Assistant Tariq Fatemi. Jaishankar and Chaudhary resumed their discussions over working lunch which also lasted for over an hour. Jaishankar said the talks were held in a “constructive and positive atmosphere.”
His visit comes seven months after India broke off foreign secretary-level talks in August last year at the eleventh hour because the Pakistan High Commissioner in New Delhi held consultations with Kashmiri separatists.
“We agreed that ensuring peace and tranquillity on the border was vital,” Jaishankar said.
The Foreign Secretary also said that during the talks with Chaudhary, ideas and initiatives to take SAARC forward were discussed.
“Pakistan will be the next SAARC Chair and India would like to work with Pakistan to help SAARC achieve its potential,” he said.
This is Jaishankar’s third stop in his “SAARC yatra” as he has already visited Thimphu and Dhaka. He will leave for Afghanistan from here tomorrow to round-off the first leg of his “SAARC yatra” aimed at firming up India’s ties with members of the grouping while reviewing regional and bilateral cooperation.
Last month, using cricket diplomacy Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif and also told him about Jaishankar’s “SAARC yatra”.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) — an economic and geopolitical grouping of eight countries located in South Asia — includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka as its members.