India, Pakistan break ice, to resume talks

India, Pakistan break ice, to resume talks

Breaking the logjam in ties, India and Pakistan on Wednesday announced that they have decided to engage in a “comprehensive” dialogue that will include peace and security and Jammu and Kashmir.

Capping a series of positive developments since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif met in Paris 10 days ago, it was announced here that the foreign secretaries will meet to decide the modalities and schedule of the dialogue.

Pakistan has assured India of “steps being taken to expedite the early conclusion” of the Mumbai attack trial, something that India has been pressing for long.

The National Security Advisors (NSAs) of India and Pakistan who had recently met in Bangkok, will continue to address all issues connected to terrorism, according to a joint statement issued by the two countries.

The joint statement came after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met Sharif and later his Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz here on the concluding day of her two-day visit for attending a multilateral conference on Afghanistan.

In another significant step towards betterment of ties, Modi will visit Pakistan to attend the Saarc summit likely to be held in September 2016, in what will be the first prime ministerial visit here from India in 12 years.

“He will be coming,” Sushma told reporters when asked if Modi will visit Pakistan to attend the summit. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the last Indian prime minister to visit Pakistan who had come here in January 2004 and attended the Saarc summit besides holding talks with the then Pakistan president, Pervez Musharraf.

The “comprehensive bilateral dialogue” will also include confidence building measures (CBMs), Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Baragge/Tulbul Navigation Project, economic and commercial cooperation, counter-terrorism, narcotics control, humanitarian issues, people-to-people exchanges and religious tourism.

The joint statement condemned terrorism and resolved to cooperate to eliminate it. Sushma and Aziz noted the successful talks on terrorism and security-related issues in Bangkok by the two NSAs and decided that the NSAs will continue to address all issues connected to terrorism.

At a joint press conference with Aziz, Sushma said she had a “very good meeting” with both Aziz and Sharif.

She said, “We have decided to start afresh the dialogue, which was going on under the composite dialogue earlier and then in the name of resumed dialogue, and call it Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue.”

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