We agreed our Foreign Secretaries willl meet soon, says Sharif

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spent much of his first day in office getting to know India’s neighbours, holding a series of unprecedented one-to-one meetings with regional leaders on Tuesday. He had some unexpectedly tough messages for some of his visitors including Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary Sujata Singh said, underlined India’s concerns on terrorism, skirmishes on the Line of Control, and slow progress in the trial of 26/11 perpetrators for Mr. Sharif. He accepted Mr. Sharif’s invitation to visit Pakistan at a later date but made no commitment on Pakistan’s call for resuming the stalled dialogue on all issues, including Kashmir, agreeing only the Foreign Secretaries of both countries would meet to see what could be done.

Later, Mr. Sharif told the media that he used the meeting to call for both countries to “change from confrontation to cooperation”. Mr. Sharif, who attended Modi’s swearing-in, described his meeting as “good and constructive” and said they had agreed that their Foreign Secretaries would be meeting soon to review and carry forward the bilateral agenda.

During his 45-minute long meeting, Mr. Sharif said he “intended to pick up the threads of the Lahore Declaration, from where it had to be left off in October 1999.”

He also told a Pakistani television station he had raised the India-Pakistan conflict over Kashmir, calling for a resolution that suited both countries, as well as the State’s residents.

The Pakistan Prime Minister could face a hostile reception from hardliners back home: the Lashkar-e-Taiba had held out public threats to Mr. Sharif for visiting New Delhi, calling on him to buy a one-way ticket.

Mr. Modi’s meeting with Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s outgoing President, pointed to the capacity of those hardliners to disrupt the relationship. Mr. Karzai blamed the LeT , the terrorist group responsible for the 26/11 strikes, for attacking India’s consulate in Herat last week. Experts, however, also cautioned against expecting too much from the meeting.