Pakistan, India to “narrow differences,” says Indian Foreign Secretary

ISLAMABAD: Indian Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankart, who met Pakistani leaders in Islamabad on Tuesday, said that both sides have agreed to “narrow differences.”

Mr. Jaishankar held talks with his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, which was the first high level contact in seven months. He also called on Pakistan’s National Security and Foreign Affair Adviser Sartaj Aziz, the Foreign Ministry said.

“My visit provided an opportunity to discuss a bilateral relation. We engaged on each other’s concerns in and impressed in an open manner. We agreed to work together, find common ground, and narrow differences,” the Indian diplomat told reporters after the talks.

“We agreed that ensuing peace and tranquility on the border was vital. Our talks were held in a very constructive and positive atmosphere,” Mr. Jaishankar said. He said Indian side reiterated its concerns on cross-border terrorism including on the case of the Mumbai attacks in 2008.

Pakistan has arrested several people in connection of the Mumbai attacks and India has long been calling for the early completion of the trial. India had blamed “lashkar-e-Tayyeba” group for the attack which had killed 164 people and injured nearly 300.

Mr. Jaishankar said that Pakistan will be the next Chairman of the regional group the the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation or SAARC and India wants to see the forum as successful.

The visit of the senior Indian diplomat is seen in Pakistan as a move to revive the stalled “in the “Composite Dialogue” process between the two nuclear neighbours.

India cancelled foreign secretaries’ talks with Pakistan in August after Pakistan’s High Commissioner in New Delhi met with Kashmiri separatist leaders. India, in an angry reaction, had described the meeting as Pakistan’s “continued efforts to interfere in India’s internal affairs.”

Pakistan had defended the meeting on the plea that it traditionally consults Kashmiri leaders ahead of talks with India. Pakistan had been insisting that India should take the initiative to revive the process as it had unilaterally cancelled the scheduled talks.

Mr. Jaishankar’s visit is seen important as it takes place at a time when the relations are tense over the current cross-border firing.

The two countries’ involvement in exchange of firing in recent weeks is seen as the major cause of diplomatic tensions that has hindered Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s initiative to maintain good relations with India and other neighbours. Pursuing his policy, Mr. Sharif travelled to New Delhi in May last year to attend Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s oath-taking ceremony. DNA

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