Special Correspondent

New Delhi: India and the U.S. on Saturday discussed the regional situation. In talks with the visiting Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice they concurred on Afghanistan but there were differing perceptions on Pakistan with India insisting that Islamabad should put more vigour in the bilateral mechanisms.

Pointing out that the former Pakistan Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, was a victim of terrorism, Ms. Rice counselled India to mend ties through dialogue and felt that both U.S. and India had a stake in a successful civilian government in Pakistan.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari had recently assured that his country’s territory would not be used to carry out terrorist attacks on India and he felt the joint terror mechanism set up by both countries must play a more active role in ensuring the assurances are realised.

At the press conference, Mr. Mukherjee said both leaders covered a wide range of subjects and were satisfied with the status of the bilateral relationship. “We are convinced of its future potential. The civil nuclear initiative is now in the last lap. We look forward to the signing of the 123 Agreement and bringing it into effect very soon,” he observed.

“As India grows and develops, our relationship with the U.S. too will grow and develop. India-US relations today have more than bilateral significance. Naturally we discussed the regional situation,” the Minister said.

He hoped India-U.S. ties in the coming years would be based on “principles and pragmatism.”

Ms. Rice said both had “a lot to be pleased about” since they were jointly “executing the vision of a deeper relationship with the U.S. and India” and wanted the “broadest” relationship that U.S. enjoys with India should be put to “use globally.”

The two sides discussed climate change and the need to work together to revitalise world trade.

During the day, Ms. Rice interacted with Mr. Mukherjee followed by delegation-level talks. She then called on the Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani and had a long discussion with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who later hosted a lunch in her honour. Ms. Rice leaves on Sunday for Kazakhstan.

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