- Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj says all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan will be discussed in comprehensive talks
- Swaraj says time for India, Pakistan to display maturity to do business, says India ready to move on cooperation at a pace Islamabad was comfortable with
Pakistan and India have agreed to reinitiate the comprehensive dialogue process, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said in a joint press conference on Wednesday along with PM’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.
“Instead of composite dialogues, now comprehensive dialogues will be held in which all outstanding issues will be discussed,” Sushma Swaraj said.
Both Swaraj and Aziz condemned terrorism and resolved to cooperate in order to eliminate the menace.
They noted the successful talks on terrorism and security related issues in Bangkok by the two National Security Advisers and decided that the security advisers will continue to address all issues connected to terrorism.
Pakistan assured the Indian side that the government is taking steps being to expedite the early conclusion of the Mumbai trials.
The dialogue process, which will start as soon as foreign secretaries agree on a schedule, will include matters related to peace and security, Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage, Tulbul Navigation Project, economic and commercial cooperation, counter-terrorism, narcotics control and humanitarian issues, people to people exchanges and religious tourism.
Earlier on Wednesday, Swaraj met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference to discuss bilateral issues.
Swaraj confirmed that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Pakistan for the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit expected to be held in September 2016.
Earlier, the opening of the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference in the capital was marked by a warm welcome from Pakistani authorities to visiting dignitaries from India, Afghanistan, China among other Asian countries.
In her speech, Swaraj said that India was willing to join hands with Pakistan and Afghanistan to strengthen regional trade, enumerating a list of measures that New Delhi was willing to take to boost commerce in the region.
The foreign minister said India was willing to receive Afghan trucks at Attari and be a part of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Trade & Transit Agreement – a measure that would do away with bureaucratic hassles in regional trade.
“India’s vision of the Heart of Asia is one of interlinked trade, transit, energy, and communication routes, with Afghanistan as an important hub,” she said, referring to the centuries-old Grand Trunk Road built by Sher Shah Suri to underscore India and Afghanistan’s shared destiny.
“The ‘Heart’ of Asia cannot function if arteries are clogged. India is ready to work with Afghanistan to strengthen its capabilities,” she said.
“Let me take this opportunity to extend our hand to Pakistan as well. It is time that we display maturity and self-confidence to do business with each other, and strengthen regional trade and cooperation. The entire world is waiting and rooting for a change. Let us not disappoint them.
“For its part, India is prepared to move our cooperation at a pace which Pakistan is comfortable with. But today, let us at least resolve to help Afghanistan –- in the best traditions of good neighbourliness –- through more effective transit arrangements,” she said.
She also spoke on the need to combat terror jointly, praising the efforts of the Afghan national security forces in combating extremism. “Terror hubs shouldn’t be allowed anywhere,” she said.
“Terrorists have made concerted efforts to capture and hold territory, reminding us that they have not changed. We salute the Afghan National Security Forces and the Afghan people for countering the forces of terrorism and extremism with courage and resilience.
“They need the continued support of the international community to defend Afghanistan’s unity and security. For its part, India is ready to work with Afghanistan to strengthen its defensive capability,” she said.