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SAARC Yatra: Talks with Pakistan foreign secretary constructive, positive, says Jaishankar

Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar meets his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Chaudhry during a one-on-one discussion at the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad on Tuesday.
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This is the first such meeting since 2012, and seven months after the last planned foreign secretary talks were cancelled by India.

Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar met with his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhury for talks in Islamabad he described were held in a “constructive and positive atmosphere”, with a “determination to forge a cooperative relationship with Pakistan”. This is the first such meeting since 2012, and seven months after the last planned foreign secretary talks were cancelled by India.

Mr. Jaishankar, who is on a visit to SAARC capitals, will also call on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and his foreign affairs advisors Sartaj Aziz and Tariq Fatemi during the day.

Speaking after the talks, Mr. Jaishankar said that he and Mr. Chaudhury had discussed bilateral relations apart from the SAARC summit to be held in Pakistan next year.

India raised its concerns on terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Toiba, as well as the pace of the trial against its commanders in Pakistan for the Mumbai 26/11 attacks. “I reiterated our known concerns on cross border terrorism, including on the Mumbai case.” Adding, “We agreed that ensuring peace and tranquillity on the border was vital.”

Addressing the ceasefire violations at Line of Control (LoC) and international border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir was a key point of the talks, even as the two sides discussed enhancing trade and connectivity in the subcontinent. According to a government reply in parliament, Pakistan’s ceasefire violations numbered more than 685 times in the past eight months, claiming 24 lives. Pakistan has also accused India of “unprovoked and indiscriminate” firing during the same period, and claims Indian troops have killed several civilians as well as troops along the border.

The Pakistan Foreign Secretary is expected to address the press later on Tuesday, and may give more details of the talks that continued well past their lunch together, especially any discussions on the Kashmir issue, that Mr. Jaishankar made no specific mention of in his comments.

Earlier, an official had said that India was hoping this visit would prove, at best, an “ice-breaker” for Mr. Jaishankar, who is visiting Pakistan for the first time. “We engaged on each other’s concerns and interests in an open manner. We agreed to work together to find common ground and narrow differences,” Mr. Jaishankar said on Tuesday, after the talks.

The Foreign secretary is visiting Islamabad on the penultimate stop of his “SAARC Yatra” that Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced he was sending him on the back of his “SAARC cricket diplomacy” initiative of speaking to other SAARC leaders before the World Cup began.

Mr. Jaishankar has already visited Thimphu and Dhaka, and would fly to Kabul on Wednesday.

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Printable version | Jun 23, 2018 11:15:37 AM | http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/indias-foreign-secretary-s-jaishankar-in-pakistan-as-part-of-saarc-yatra/article6954658.ece