BRUNEI DARUSSALAM, July 2: Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz said on Tuesday it was necessary for Pakistan and India to address all outstanding issues through confidence-building measures (CBMs) to ensure lasting peace and security in the region.
Mr Aziz, who met Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid in Brunei on the sidelines of the Asean Regional Forum (ARF) meeting, said he had reviewed the CBMs with India, which was the desire of peoples of the two countries.
The meeting was held in a warm and cordial atmosphere and discussions focused on building better relations between the two countries, said a Foreign Office spokesman.
Mr Aziz said trade and economic cooperation between Pakistan and India could act as a catalyst and raise the confidence level on both sides that would allow a sustained peace process.
He appreciated the recent visit of the Indian energy mission to Pakistan in which trade in electricity and gas was discussed.
Both ministers discussed steps needed in this regard.
They also agreed that the Pakistan-India Joint Business Council meeting which concluded in Islamabad on June 29 was another important mechanism that would help in taking the process forward.
Referring to the positive outcome of the ARF meeting, both leaders were of the view that regional cooperation would give an impetus to economic development and prosperity of South and Southeast Asia. Decisions taken at the ARF should be translated into action soon.
The ministers expressed the hope that the bilateral dialogue process would be resumed in a few months.
The Indian minister conveyed greetings from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and expressed his government’s desire to engage with Pakistan on all issues and work to improve bilateral relations.
Mr Aziz informed Mr Khurshid that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was giving priority to improving relations with India by picking up the threads from the Lahore process of 1999.—APP
Our Correspondent in New Delhi adds: Speaking to Doordarshan after a meeting with Sartaj Aziz, Mr Khurshid said India wanted quick progress on a slew of measures envisioned by the new Pakistani government to boost bilateral ties.
He said ‘incidents’ and ‘events’ disrupted the move forward but both countries kept their commitment intact for progress in ties.
In separate comments, the Indian minister conditionally supported a Pakistan-backed move to re-induct the Taliban into Afghanistan’s political mainstream.
“We (hope to) take forward this important relationship and find resolutions to all issues that are of contentious nature that arise from time to time, but first of all take those positive openings that are available in people-to-people contact, strengthening our institutional contacts,” he said.
He expected both countries to ensure “that we move forward on the vision that has been given over the years that gets interrupted by incidents and events but where the general direction we both remain committed to. And it’s important we show quick progress, and we reciprocate this vision and this determination on the part of the new government of Pakistan”.
According to Doordarshan, Mr Khurshid urged the Pakistan government to free an unspecified number of Indian fishermen lodged in jails across there.
Mr Khurshid was quoted in separate news reports as spelling out India’s Afghanistan policy.
“We support the efforts made by the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to establish a peaceful dialogue with all armed opposition groups,” he said.
“But this must be a broad-based Afghan-led Afghan-owned reconciliation process, within the framework of the Afghan constitution and internationally accepted red lines. This dialogue must involve all sections of the Afghan society and armed opposition groups, including the Taliban,” Mr Khurshid said.
“The reconciliation process must not undermine the legitimacy of the Afghan state and government and the political, social and economic progress witnessed in Afghanistan over the past decade, to which members of the international community have contributed in great measure,” Mr Khurshid was quoted as saying.
India had played an important role in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Afghanistan, he said.