India needs a stable Pak: Nirupama Rao



London: Describing her recent talks in Islamabad as "productive and positive", India's Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao has said a stable Pakistan which acts as a bulwark against terrorism is in the interest of the region.

"With Pakistan, we have consistently made efforts to go back to the negotiating table to solve difficult issues. We have striven to promote better relations with Pakistan," Rao said Monday in a speech on "Key Priorities for India's Foreign Policy" at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a London-based think tank.

Rao stressed that during talks with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir last week, she made it clear "such relations can only grow in an atmosphere free of terror and violence".

"The trajectory of our relationship over the last few decades has been distorted and adversely impacted by the factor of cross-border terrorism," she said.

"A stable Pakistan which acts as a bulwark against terrorism and extremism is in its own interest and also in the interest of our region," she said, adding that she had "just returned from a productive and positive round of talks with Foreign Secretary Bashir in Islamabad".

Rao and Bashir held talks in Islamabad June 23-24 during which the two sides agreed to expand trade and travel across the Line of Control to sustain the dialogue they had resumed only in February, more than two years after the Mumbai terror attack froze engagement between the two neighbours.

Raising alleged links of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) with Mumbai terror, Rao pressed Pakistan for a "satisfactory closure" of the 26/11 trial and reminded that complex issues like Kashmir can't be resolved under "the shadow of the gun".

In her speech, Rao underlined that India was placed "in an extremely complex neighbourhood which has seen rapid, and often turbulent, change in the last thirty years" and emphasised a peaceful periphery as a key goal of India's foreign policy.

Alluding to India's ties with China, she said although there was "an unresolved boundary question" between the two countries, "we have not held the rest of the relationship hostage to this complex issue".

"With our largest neighbour, China, we have consciously practised a policy of engagement that has yielded positive dividend," she said.

IANS