Khurshid, Aziz discuss India-Pakistan ties

Islamabad, July 2 (IANS) Indian Minister for External Affairs Salman Khurshid discussed bilateral ties with the advisor to Pakistan’s prime minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum meeting in Brunei, said a statement Tuesday.

According to the statement, this was the first high-level bilateral contact between the two countries after the new government in Pakistan headed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took office last month.

Khurshid conveyed greetings from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and expressed the Indian government’s desire to engage with Pakistan on all issues and work on improving bilateral relations, said the statement.

Reciprocating the sentiments, Aziz informed Khurshid that Sharif was giving priority to improving relations with India by picking up the threads from the Lahore process of 1999.

Aziz felt that to ensure lasting peace and security in the region, it was necessary to discuss all outstanding issues and confidence building proposals.

Noting that economic cooperation between the two countries could act as a catalyst, raise confidence levels on both sides and would allow a sustained peace process, Aziz appreciated the recent visit of the Indian energy mission to Pakistan in which electricity and gas were discussed.

Both ministers agreed that the India-Pakistan Joint Business Council meeting, which concluded in Islamabad June 29, was another important mechanism that would help in taking the process forward.

Both leaders were of the view that regional cooperation would give an impetus to the economic development and prosperity of South and Southeast Asia.

They expressed the hope that the bilateral dialogue process between India and Pakistan would be resumed in the next few months.

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