Foreign Secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan have laid a solid foundation for a sustained engagement between the two countries, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said here on Monday.

“The very fact that the two Foreign Secretaries met is certainly an indication that solid foundation has been laid for getting the two countries on a sustained engagement,” Mr. Krishna told journalists after arriving here to take part in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Council of Ministers meeting.

“The genesis of all this was the Prime Ministers ... when they met in Thimphu [last April], they mandated the Foreign Ministers and Foreign Secretaries to bridge the trust deficit between the two countries,” he said, adding these meetings would help build “bridges of trust, mutual confidence, respect and all the other things.”

Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir called on Mr. Krishna to convey the greetings and good wishes from the Pakistan leadership to the Indian leadership as well as Pakistan's desire to have friendly, cooperative and mutually beneficial relations with India. The Government of Pakistan would like to resolve all outstanding issues with India in a peaceful and just manner and attached importance to a purposeful broad ranging engagement.

Both countries attached importance to development and it was imperative to create an enabling environment to achieve prosperity, stability and peace. It was important that Pakistan and India assumed ownership for ensuring a better future for their peoples and for the region as a whole, he observed.

Mr. Bashir expressed satisfaction over the “productive talks” with Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.

Mr. Krishna reaffirmed the commitment of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to promote good relations with Pakistan and expressed support for the process of engagement discussed by the two Foreign Secretaries.

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