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Jaishankar raises issue of cross-border terror with Pak

Jaishankar raises issue of cross-border terror with Pak
India and Pakistan appeared to be inching towards resumption of dialogue on Tuesday after Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar’s discussions were described by both sides as “ice-breaking.” Jaishankar flew-in as part of his “SAARC Yatra” and held extensive talks with his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Chaudhary besides calling on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his advisor on foreign affairs and national security, Sartaj Aziz.

The Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam used the term “ice-breaking” while summing-up the discussions, a view with which Indian sources concurred. On his part, Jaishankar said that the talks were held in “constructive and positive atmosphere”. He had conveyed India’s concerns on cross-border terrorism, including issues relating to the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai.

“The two Secretaries tried building blocks to move forward. They seem to be making progress in the pursuit of normalisation of ties,” spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry, Syed Akbaruddin said in New Delhi. After his talks with Chaudhary, the Foreign Secretary said: “My visit provided an opportunity to discuss our bilateral relations. We engaged up on each other’s concerns and interests. We agreed to work together to find a common ground and narrow differences. I reiterated our known concerns on cross-border terrorism, including the Mumbai case.”

The two Foreign Secretaries held an hour-long discussion before they broke-off so that Jaishankar could call on Aziz and PM’s special assistant Tariq Fatemi. Jaishankar and Chaudhary resumed their discussions over working lunch, which also lasted for over an hour. This is the first comprehensive meeting between the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan after 2012.

“We agreed that ensuring peace and tranquility on the border was vital,” Jaishankar said. The Foreign Secretary also added: “During the talks with Chaudhary, ideas and initiatives to take SAARC forward were discussed. I am glad to be part of the 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 neighbours.”

“We discussed ideas and initiatives to take SAARC forward. Pakistan will be the next SAARC Chair and India will like to work with Pakistan to help SAARC achieve its potential,” he added.
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