Islamabad: Foreign Secretaries of India
and Pakistan met here Thursday in their efforts to bridge the
trust deficit and work out measures to counter terrorism to
bring on track the stalled peace process.
Meeting for the second time in four months, Foreign
Secretaries Nirupama Rao and Salman Bashir described their
parleys as "cordial" and "constructive" during which they
tried to "understand each other`s position" and concern.
Rao, the first senior
Indian official to visit Islamabad since the 2008 Mumbai
terror attacks, met her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir
for talks at the Foreign Office here.
The talks began with a one-on-one meeting between Rao
and Bashir followed by delegation-level parleys.
Speaking to reporters after the parleys, both the secretaries described their interaction as “constructive” and “forward looking”.
Foreign secretary Rao said, “The dialogue was exploratory…we agreed to bridge the trust deficit,” adding that the talks were held with a forward looking orientation aimed at paving for holding comprehensive dialogue to address all issues.
“I believe that the destiny our two people are linked with each other,” she said while stressing upon the need to normalise the relations between the two countries.
On a question from a reporter on whether India put forth its concerns regarding terrorism during the talks, Rao said, "We discussed all issues, obviously our core concerns
on terrorism were also articulated."
She also noted that Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani
had assured his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh in Thimphu
in April that Pakistan will not allow its soil to be used for
terrorist activities against India.
"We believe that it is an important commitment and
what we also believe is that we should jointly work together
towards our goal of resolution of outstanding issues," she
When asked whether India was shying from resuming the composite dialogue process, Rao said, “Dialogue is the best option that exits for improving relations. It is not the issue of nomenclature. The focus, the orientation must be that the dialogue is resuming between the countries. We are trying to understand why there is a trust deficit between the countries.”
Detailing his assessment of the talks he held with his Indian counterpart, Pakistan Foreign secretary Bashir said that both the sides worked towards restoring confidence and building trust.
“The talks have been marked by a great deal of cordiality; the dialogue is very constructive. We have been able to review comprehensively the state of our bilateral relations,” Bashir said.
Borrowing a phrase used by Rao, Bashir said, “This has been a good essay in mutual comprehension.”
He also added that the today’s talks have instilled a sense of optimism about the outcome of talks between foreign ministers SM Krishna and Shah Mehmood Qureshi, scheduled to be held on July 15.
On India’s concerns about terrorism, Bashir said, “The two PMs had agreed to re-engage on all issues. Terrorism has impacted Pakistan. This is an issue which is of concern to Pakistan, region and the world.”
“Essentially we have agreed to discuss this further and more just from the rhetorical to ways & means to address each others concerns,’ he added.
Bashir also thanked Rao for ‘the spirit with she approached the talks’, he said, ‘All in all this has been useful.”
The Foreign Secretary-level talks were held a day
before Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram arrives in Islamabad
to participate in a SAARC Interior Ministers meeting on June
Chidambaram will also hold talks with his Pakistani
counterpart Rehman Malik on the sidelines of the SAARC meet.