NEW DELHI: New Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday to crack down on militant groups, while stressing his desire for closer economic ties between the two countries, the Indian foreign ministry said.
Modi ‘underlined our concerns related to terrorism’ to Sharif during talks in New Delhi on the first day of his term in office, said Indian foreign secretary Sujatha Singh.
“We want peaceful and friendly relations with Pakistan. However, for such relations to proceed it is important that terror and violence is brought to an end,” Singh told reporters after the meeting.
She added that Modi conveyed the message that Islamabad must ‘abide by its commitment to prevent its territory and territory it controls being used to stage terror attacks on India’.
Modi also pressed for speedy progress of trials in Pakistan of people accused of masterminding a 2008 commando-style attack on the city of Mumbai in which 166 people were killed.
During Tuesday’s talks Modi also underlined his desire to improve commercial ties, Singh said.
“There was discussion on trade and we noted that we were fully ready to fully normalise trade and economic relations. Both prime ministers expressed their interest in having this done as early as possible,” Singh said.
Despite the directness of Modi’s message, both sides said the meeting between the two prime ministers was ‘cordial’ and they agreed to try to restart peace talks. They also agreed to pursue normalising trade ties.
Responding later, Sharif sounded a conciliatory note, describing the meeting as a historic opportunity to turn ‘a new page in our relations’.
“We should rid the region of instability and insecurity that has plagued us for decades. Consequently, it was important for us to work together for peace, progress and prosperity,” he told reporters.
But he said he also told Modi that engaging in ‘accusations and counter-accusations would be counter-productive’.
Nawaz 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.”
“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. “I intended to pick up the threads of the Lahore Declaration, from where it had to be left off in October 1999,” He said.
“Finally I urged that we had to strive to change confrontation into cooperation. Engaging in accusations and counter-accusations would be counter-productive, I emphasised.”
“My government, therefore, stands ready to discuss all issues between our two countries, in a spirit of cooperation and sincerity,” he said.
He said the leaders of the two countries owe it to their people to overcome the legacy of mistrust and misgivings. “We agreed that this common objective could be facilitated by greater people-to-people exchanges, at all levels.”
He said Prime Minister Modi warmly reciprocated his sentiments and remarked that his visit to New Delhi was seen as a special gesture by the people of India.
“He [Modi] stated that it was incumbent on both of us to work together, to achieve our common objectives for peace and development.”
Prime Minister said he leaves this historic city with a strong sense that the leaders and the people of Pakistan and India share desire and mutual commitment to carry forward their relationship, for the larger good of their peoples.
Attired in a black suit and red tie, Prime Minister Sharif warmly shook hands with Narendra Modi who was attired in a beige Nehru jacket.
The leaders gave a big smile to the awaiting cameras, before being ushered in for the talks at the Deccan Suite for a 50-minute meeting that ran over its allotted time.
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