Meira meets Zardari, both express commitment to friendship

India and Pakistan today expressed their commitment to work towards establishing good neighbourly relations between them and voiced satisfaction on the way bilateral dialogue was progressing.

The two sides conveyed this sentiment to each other when visiting Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar called on Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari at the presidency here this evening.

Zardari said Pakistan is committed to a "constructive‚ sustained and result-oriented process of engagement" with India, and reiterated his call for the two countries to make "determined efforts for friendly‚ cooperative and good neighbourly relations".

He expressed satisfaction that the "resumed dialogues between the two countries are progressing", an official statement said.

Zardari said finding "amicable and just solutions" to all outstanding issues is important for Pakistan and India to ensure lasting peace and stability in the region.

He said South Asia has enormous potential and cooperation between India and Pakistan is imperative to exploit it.

Pakistan is also keen to promote greater interaction between parliamentarians of the two sides and "high level visits have significantly improved the atmosphere between the two countries", he said.

Kumar, who is leading an Indian parliamentary delegation for a SAARC meeting here, reiterated India's desire to "build a relationship of good neighbourliness and all-round cooperation with Pakistan".

She expressed satisfaction at "recent positive developments in bilateral relations", including in the areas of trade and people-to-people interaction.

Zardari hoped that bilateral parliamentary exchanges would continue in future as they would help promote people-to-people contacts and build mutual trust and understanding.

The Lok Sabha Speaker called on the President after the inauguration of a conference of the Association of SAARC Speakers and Parliamentarians in Islamabad by Zardari.

She was accompanied by Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson P J Kurien, the Lok Sabha Secretary General and Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal.

Matters related to promoting SAARC's role in different fields‚ increased contacts between parliamentarians‚ regional issues and Pakistan-India relations were discussed during the meeting.

Kumar told Zardari that she carried "everlasting impressions" from her bilateral visit to Pakistan in February, which was undertaken at the invitation of National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza.

The two leaders emphasised the role of parliamentary interaction in promoting democratic values and agreed that such interaction between India and Pakistan "contributes significantly to the efforts to improve the relationship between the two countries".

Kumar conveyed to Zardari greetings and good wishes from the Indian President, Prime Minister, parliament and people and told the President that she looked forward to welcoming the Chairman of Pakistan's Senate to India in the coming weeks.

Zardari further said Pakistan would continue to play a "proactive role" to make SAARC a vibrant regional organisation as regional cooperation is an "important engine of prosperity".

Pakistan attaches importance to SAARC as it can play an important role in bringing the people of members' states together by promoting investment‚ trade and contacts, he added.

Earlier, Kumar proposed the name of her Pakistani counterpart Mirza and formally handed over the Chairpersonship of the SAARC Speakers' Council to her at a meeting of the body at Pakistan's National Assembly.

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