PM Modi, Sharif hold bilateral talks in Russia

Ufa (Russia), July 10

In a breakthrough, India and Pakistan today decided to revive the stalled dialogue process and find ways to expedite trial of the Mumbai attack case as Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif agreed to cooperate to eliminate terrorism from South Asia. Modi and Sharif, in their first bilateral talks in over an year, met for nearly one hour here on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit and discussed entire gamut of issues between the two countries. Significantly, Foreign Secretaries S Jaishankar and Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry held a joint press meet where they read out a joint statement on the outcome of the much-anticipated meeting between the two leaders. National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz will meet in New Delhi to discuss all issues connected to terrorism, the statement said. “Both sides agreed to discuss ways and means to expedite the Mumbai case trial including additional information like providing voice samples,” the statement said. Modi accepted Sharif’s invitation to visit Pakistan for the SAARC summit next year. Modi and Sharif had held last bilateral in May last year in New Delhi when the Pakistan Prime Minister came to attend swearing-in ceremony of the Indian leader. They merely exchanged pleasantries during the SAARC summit in Kathmandu in November last. Jaishankar and Choudhry took turns to read out the one-page joint statement but refused to take questions from the media. Terrorism remained focus of the talks with both the leaders condemning terrorism in “all its forms” and agreed to cooperate with each other to eliminate the menace from South Asia. “They agreed that India and Pakistan have a collective responsibility to ensure peace and promote development. To do so, they are prepared to discuss all outstanding issues,” the statement said.
Both sides also agreed to hold early meetings of DG BSF and DG Pakistan Rangers followed by that of Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs). It was decided to release fishermen in each other’s custody, along with their boats, within a period of 15 days. A mechanism for facilitating religious tourism will also be worked out, as per the five-point “steps” to be taken by the two sides. Modi, in a dark grey bandhgala, received Sharif and the two leaders warmly shook hands and posed for the shutterbugs before settling down for the talks. “The meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere. The two leaders exchanged views on issues of bilateral and regional interest,” the statement said. —PTI