Dialogue should not be derailed by terrorism: India (Lead)

June 24th, 2010 - 6:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Islamabad/New Delhi, June 24 (IANS) India and Pakistan Thursday agreed that dialogue was “the best way forward” and should not be allowed to be derailed by “terrorist elements”.
“We must deny terrorist elements any opportunity to derail prospects to improve the relationship,” Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said after holding delegation level talks with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir in Islamabad.

“We believe that dialogue is the best way forward,” Rao said at a packed press conference.

The foreign secretary clearly indicated that the talks were the harbinger of closer dialogue between India and Pakistan in the coming months. “During our discussions, we have accepted the modalities for restoring trust and confidence for comprehensive sustained and meaningful dialogue,” added Rao.

However, she demurred from stating that this was a resumption of the Comprehensive Dialogue, which India had suspended after the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008.

“You must focus that dialogue is the best option for deepening relationship. It is not an issue of nomenclature,” said Rao.

At the same time, India’s “core concern about terrorism (was) also articulated” at the discussion and Pakistan reminded about Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani’s commitment that its soil will not be used against India. “We believe that is an important commitment,” said Rao.

She was referring to the “commitment” made at the meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Gilani in Thimpu on the sidelines of the SAARC summit in April this year.

She added that both sides will have to work together so that these “dangers, threats and evils” of terrorism are countered effectively.

The Pakistani foreign secretary described the talks as being marked with “great deal of cordiality, sincerity and earnestness.”

“I would like to borrow a phrase from Nirupama Rao, that this has been a good essay in mutual comprehension,” Bashir said.

Bashir said that after Thursday’s engagement, he was “much more optimistic about the good outcome for the ministerial level meeting”. He was referring to the meeting between Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi July 15.

“We have been able to review comprehensively the state of bilateral relations. All issues of concern and interest touched upon, always keeping in mind the need to move ahead,” said Bashir.

On the issue of terrorism, Bashir said both countries were discussing ways to cooperate in counter-terrorism, which would be discussed in detail at the meeting of Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram and his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik Saturday.

“We will not allow terrorists space to act against each other,” he said.

This is the second stand-alone meeting between the two foreign secretaries this year. Foreign Secretary Bashir had travelled to New Delhi for talks in February.

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