UFA:(APS) Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi held a on Friday meeting during which the Indian premier accepted PM Nawaz’s invitation to Pakistan for the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit in 2016.
The announcement was made by Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar during a joint statement issued with his Pakistani counterpart after Nawaz and Modi held their meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Russia.
Foreign Secretary Pakistan Aizaz Chaudhry said that the meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere and the two leaders exchanged views on bilateral and regional interest.
He added that the two leaders agreed that both India and Pakistan have a collective responsibility to ensure peace and promote development.
“To do so, they are prepared to discuss all outstanding issues,” Chaudhry said during the briefing. The foreign secretary further said, “Both leaders condemned terrorism and agreed to cooperate with each other to eliminate this menace from south Asia”.
Indian Foriegn Secretary S Jaishankar added that the two premiers also agreed on the following steps to be taken by both countries:
A meeting in New Delhi between the two countries’ national security advisers to discuss all issues connected to terrorism
Yearly meetings between director general (DG) of the Border Security Force (BSF) and DG Pakistan Rangers, followed by that of the directors general of military operations (DGMOs)
A decision on release of fishermen in each other’s custody along with boats within a period of fifteen days
A mechanism for facilitating religious tourism
Discussion on means to expedite the Mumbai case trial including additional information like providing voice samples.
The meeting between Nawaz and Modi, which took place in Ufa’s Congress Hall, lasted for about an hour.
Adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Special Assistant to PM on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi were also present at the meeting.
Earlier, the two prime ministers shook hands before the start of talks.
This was the first meeting between the two leaders since Nawaz attended Modi’s swearing-in ceremony in May 2014.
Peace talks between the two estranged neighbours have been suspended since January 2013, when tensions at the LoC started flaring up. Last year saw some of the worst clashes along the de facto border. The clashes have sporadically continued to occur this year and last such clash was reported last weekend.
Hostile statements made by the Indian prime minister and some of his cabinet ministers against Pakistan this year further vitiated the atmosphere.
Another development that occurred over the past few months was that Pakistani military has publicly started expressing its concerns about Indian involvement in subversive activities inside Pakistan.
The two leaders have spoken more recently when Modi made a phone call to Nawaz in June at the start of the holy month of Ramazan, an apparent icebreaking move after a spate of provocative exchanges between Islamabad and Delhi.
High-level talks between the two countries also took place in March, but other such meetings have been cancelled amid tensions.