India-Pak starting talks to peace and development

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On Monday, Dec 14 articulated that re-engaging with Pakistan under a ‘Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue’ will mark starting of peace and development as continued pique was a hurdle to peace and prosperity in the region.

Making a suo motu statement in Rajya Sabha on her last week’s visit of Islamabad and recent developments relating to ties between the two neighbours, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had discussed with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the environment conference in Paris “again re-engaging with each other.”

“The underlying sentiment, on which I am confident that this House concurs fully, was that the continued estrangement of two neighbours was a hurdle to the realisation of our shared vision of a peaceful and prosperous region,” she said.

At the same time, there was also a “sharp awareness” that principal obstacles to the growth of ties, especially terrorism, would have to be clearly and directly addressed.

She read out her statement as members of several opposition parties were in the Well screamingly raising slogans on several issues.

Swaraj said following her visit to Islamabad a ‘Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue’ with Pakistan will begin with the objective of “removing hurdles in the path of a constructive engagement by addressing issues of concern.”

Also, it aims at “exploring and establishing cooperative ties,” she said, adding initiatives on trade and connectivity, people-to-people exchanges and Humanist issues would contribute to welfare of the entire region and promote better understanding and mutual trust.

“The new Dialogue, we sincerely hope, marks a new beginning also for peace and development in the whole region,” she said.’

Following Modi-Sharif meeting on November 30, it was decided that the two sides should hold the NSA-level meeting. “The National Security Advisors of the two countries similarly met on December 6” in Bangkok, Swaraj said.

The two NSAs focussed on “peace and security, terrorism, tranquility along the Line of Control and Jammu and Kashmir – the state which has been most directly impacted by terrorism and violation of LOC,” she said, adding her visit to Islamabad came on the back of these “constructive talks”.

Swaraj said the 5th Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia Istanbul Process on December 8-9 in Islamabad was devoted to the themes of security and connectivity.

Modi-Sharif meeting on November 30, it was decided that the two sides should hold the NSA-level meeting. “The National Security Advisors of the two countries accordingly met on December 6” in Bangkok, Swaraj said.

The two NSAs focussed on “peace and security, terrorism, tranquility along the Line of Control and Jammu and Kashmir – the state which has been most directly impacted by terrorism and violation of LOC,” she said, adding her visit to Islamabad came on the back of these “constructive talks”.

“During the Ufa meeting, PM was extended an invitation by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to visit Islambad for attending the SAARC Summit in 2016,” she said, without saying if Modi will visit Pakistan.

Swaraj said the expected meetings of NSA and Directors General of Military Operations, as envisaged at Ufa, did not materialise “for the reaons that we all know.”

Against this backdrop, when Modi and Sharif met during the COP-21 Summit in Paris on November 30, “there was a discussion on how the two countries could build environment suited for again re-engaging with each other,” she said.

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