ISLAMABAD–Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry said all issues of concern between India and Pakistan were discussed today. He was speaking at a press conference following a meeting with his Indian counterpart.
Mr. Chaudhry said the overall tone of the meeting was positive and that both countries are ready to reflect on matters of importance to them.
Earlier in the day, Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the PM House and discussed matters related to South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and bilateral ties between the two neighbours.
Nawaz welcomed the meeting between two foreign secretaries in Islamabad and hoped that process would continue. He underlined the importance of enhanced cooperation among SAARC member states.
Earlier, Jaishankar met Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry in Islamabad on Tuesday following his arrival in Pakistan for a two-day official visit.
Credible sources told Dawn that Secretary Chaudhry greeted his Indian counterpart warmly at the Foreign Office.
Senior officials from both sides are assisting in the talks which are the first since New Delhi called them off last year.
During the meeting, both foreign secretaries realised that peaceful dialogue is the only way forward to resolve all outstanding issues, sources told Dawn.
Sources added that Chaudhry drew the Indian secretary’s attention to the recent tensions at the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary.
Jaishankar said that he was happy to be visiting Pakistan and that he looks forward to having substantial and meaningful negotiations with Pakistani officials.
The primary agenda for the secretaries’ meeting was about promoting regional connectivity and trade even though both sides have an understanding about discussing bilateral matters.
Accompanied by a delegation of diplomats, Jaishankar was welcomed by officials from the Foreign Ministry as well as those from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.
Jaishankar is in Pakistan as part of a tour of Saarc countries.
Secretary Jaishankar will also meet Adviser on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz and Special Assistant to Prime Minister Tariq Fatimi.
Indian diplomatic sources told Dawn that Secretary Shankar is on a goodwill visit to Saarc countries and that only Saarc related matters would be discussed by him during his visit.
Islamabad is the third stop in Jaishankar’s Saarc trip that began on Sunday. He earlier visited Bhutan and Bangladesh. He will travel to Kabul from here on Wednesday.
The visit is taking place almost seven months after Delhi cancelled the last planned secretaries’ dialogue in August on the pretext that Pakistani High Commissioner in Delhi Abdul Basit had consulted Kashmiri leaders.
Both sides are to hold what officials have been describing as “talks for talks” (dialogue on resuming suspended talks).
Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar on the first day of his two-day visit to Pakistan met the Adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.
According to sources, bilateral relations and the security situation in South Asia came under discussion during the meeting.
Jaishankar had earlier met the Special Assistant to Prime Minister Tariq Fatimi and his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Chaudhry.
Pakistan will chair the next South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) conference and India would like to work with Pakistan to help Saarc achieve its potential, said the India foreign secretary after his meeting with Aizaz Chaudhry.
“During talks with the Pakistani foreign secretary, I reiterated India’s concerns on cross border terrorism, including the Mumbai case,” S. Jaishankar told media representatives while reading out a written statement.
He said he was glad to be in Islamabad as part of the Indian Prime Minister’s initiative of a Saarc Yatra.
“I conveyed the expectations of our leadership on Saarc and their determination to forge a cooperative relationship with all our neighbors,” Jaishankar said.
During the meeting, both sides discussed ideas and initiatives to take Saarc forward.
“Naturally, my visit provided an opportunity to discuss our bilateral relations and we engaged on each other’s concerns and interests in an open manner,” he added.
He also said that both parties have agreed to work together to find common ground and narrow differences as ensuring peace and tranquility on the border was vital.
“Our talks were held in a constructive and positive atmosphere,” Jaishankar elaborated.
While briefly talking to media representatives, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam termed the meeting as an ice breaker and said all issues between Pakistan and India came under discussion.
The 2018 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference is scheduled for April 8 to 11 in Boao, Hainan Province. The forum will be themed "An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity."
— The Daily Mail - People's Daily